The ninth installment of the country's premier arthouse horror and fantasy film festival - originally a spinoff of the autumn Black Nights extravaganza - starts in the resort town in western Estonia this Thursday and runs through Sunday.
Kultuur.err.ee's Valner Valme interviewed festival director Maria Reinup. Excerpts from the full Estonian interview below.
What makes HÕFF special in this region?
First of all, HÕFF is the biggest Baltic festival devoted to genre and niche cinema, as small as it is. Lithuania has nothing of the type to our knowledge and their religious culture is perhaps one of the big obstacles to something like this being developed or publicly promoting genre cinema. Riga once had something like it, but not anymore.
You can't say we've got competition in Estonia, either. Thus it's special in the Baltics and the only chance for fans to see cult films on the big screen.
It's different in the Nordics, of course. In Finland alone there are several events, big and small. Our partner Night Visions holds a festival there twice a year, in spring and autumn. There are some variations in Sweden and Norway. Denmark has Bloody Weekend in Copenhagen, and its organizer Elias Eliot will be at HÕFF this year to present the world's worst film ever, "The Room."
Why should a film-goer come to HÕFF if they aren't crazy about horror, thrillers and fantasy to begin with? Is there anything at the festival that is in these genres but also appeals to viewers with different preferences?
You should come to HÕFF because Haapsalu is the world's best place to be in when spring is bursting out all over. And because everyone can find a suitable film on the program.
The same film I just mentioned, [Tommy Wiseau's] "The Room,"[in English] is not in any one genre. It's a love drama that is made so badly that you will laugh yourself silly. You can even say it's a good comedy.
If people don't like a bloodless Norwegian thrillers or a fantasy films about how a girl imagines growing up in an eccentric sexual mode, I really don't know why come. In that case, you might as well go see "Iron Man 6" or "Saw 17". Those are genre films, too.
If a filmgoer likes entertainment with a little substance, they won't just find a couple films here, they will find even a reason to get excited about them.
Must-sees - at least one film each from fantasy, thriller and horror genres?
"Wetlands" (fantasy, German with Estonian subtitles), "In Order of Disappearance" (thriller, Scandinavian languages with Estonian and Russian subtitles), and "Babadook" (horror, in English), "The Rambler" (horror, in English), and "Mindscape" (thriller, in English).