Chattanooga Film Festival 2024: First Wave, Plus Serling, Poe, Spooky Book Fair

Editor, U.S.; California (@m_galgana)
Chattanooga Film Festival 2024: First Wave, Plus Serling, Poe, Spooky Book Fair

Calling all fans who love rad, indie festivals and films! The Chattanooga Film Festival has just released their first wave of features and additional events, lovingly put together by the most fun weirdos in Tennessee. CFF is one of my favorite film festivals; year after year, they overcome battles against morally superior, would-be local sponsors, and venue and other behind-the-scenes challenges to deliver the best in genre film, music doc programming, and rad events.

This year, they’re back at the elegant and haunted Read House, in addition to hosting a virtual festival, which became a big hit during the pandemic. I, for one, loved that we were able to take advantage of some film festival goodness during that existential and lonely time, which I’m not sure we’re really out of, but onward.

On this very topic, Festival Director and Lead Film Programmer Chris Dortch says: “We're equally proud to have kept up our commitment towards audience accessibility, and we're beyond grateful to the filmmakers and companies that understand the importance of accessibility options and why, when handled responsibly by a festival, that virtual presentation can be an incredible tool to not only include more fans in the fun, but to bring the world of film festivals to an audience that's never had the opportunity to experience it.”

“For our eleventh year, we tried to strike a balance between a reverence for classic genre cinema, some new filmmakers, and discoveries that we think are going to knock our fans’ socks off and even a few returning favorites that will help us continue to make this festival feel like home to the warm-hearted film fans that have come to embrace us over the last few years. We think we pulled it off, but can't wait to see what our audience thinks!”

I can’t wait, either! In addition to the features and lovingly curated shorts blocks, I’m also really looking forward to the Rod Serling celebration with one of those who knew him best, his daughter, author Anne Serling. She’ll be in attendance to screen Rod’s favorite Twilight Zone episodes, joined by TZ historian and author Mark Dawidziak. They’ll screening of her father's favorite episodes, and discussing his legacy. Plus, the fest will host a Rod Serling 100th birthday celebration at the fantastic Chattanooga Whiskey Event Hall. A reliable and delicious sponsor of CFF, I might add.

If that wasn’t enough, CFF is bringing in a number of genre authors for a spooky book fair sidebar! Anne will sign copies of her biography about her legendary father, and Mark will sign his tome on Edgar Allan Poe’s life, disappearance, and final days, touted by Barnes & Noble as its March non-fiction title of the month. This goes along with a live “Poe-formance,” to boot! Genre spookies Clay McLeod Chapman (also performing again!), Adam Cesare, and filmmaker/author Izzy Lee will also be on hand to sign some creepy goodness for fans. More on all of this in the official press release below.

Hope to see you in Chattanooga, friends! Discounted early bird badges are on sale through March 18, so get ‘em now if you can!

Chattanooga, TN (March 12, 2024) - Organizers of the acclaimed Chattanooga Film Festival take their Spinal Tap references seriously and have fired off an opening salvo of films that, much like the fictional metal titan's amps, goes to eleven. There's a method to the festival's madness. There are eleven films, one for each of the festival's years. This eclectic mix, when Voltron-ed together and seasoned liberally with the events (virtual and in-person) the festival is known for, comprises the festival's first full wave of 2024 programming.

Hot on the heels of announcing a massive salute to THE TWILIGHT ZONE and its creator, Rod Serling, in honor of Rod's 100th birthday and a 60th-anniversary screening of Russ Meyer's mother of all cult classics FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! The CFF's first wave of features is led by a World Premiere filled with the kind of VHS-worship practically guaranteed to worm its way into the hearts of the festival’s loyal fans.

In filmmaker Michael Turney's RetroTech Romance VIDEO VISION, a woman unlocks a dark dimension through an old VCR, combining romance, horror, and analog technology in unique and spellbinding ways. 

Video Vision in both vibes and execution perfectly embodies the genre-blending spirit of the Chattanooga Film Festival and serves as its opening night film selection for the year. Because of the festival's ongoing commitment to accessibility for its 2024 edition, the CFF team endeavored to find filmmakers and partners who understand the importance of this issue, and audience members will have the option of tuning into this world premiere on-site and virtually (US residents only). This theme of accessibility extends to the festival's other programming. The CFF team has also ensured that an equal number of exclusive films and events are available to their attendees whether they are joining in on the fun in person at the festival's elegant haunted hotel home, THE READ HOUSE, or attending virtually.

The festival's first wave also includes the return of several fan favorites, the first of which is critically acclaimed author CLAY McCLEOD CHAPMAN, whose yearly appearance and wild live storytelling and readings known as THE PUMPKIN PIE SHOW are an unmissable and sacred CFF tradition and an annual highlight. This year's event will feature readings from Chapman's novel WHAT KIND OF MOTHER and other tales! 

Next up is a multi-time alumnus and multi-talented filmmaker/author beloved to the festival's fans, Izzy Lee, who will be on hand signing copies of her new novella I CAN SEE YOUR LIES.

Continuing its tradition of partnering with forward-thinking companies that are curating and releasing some of the world's best genre cinema, CFF is honored to once again work with ART BRUT FILMS, which will be presenting a special screening of a unique take on the slasher genre: filmmaker NICK VERDI's SWEET RELIEF, a film that feels more than a little infused with the hangout DNA of early Richard Linklater films while still delivering a story that will resonate with genre fans.

Presenting another buzzed-about special screening for attendees is DREAD. DREAD will bring the thrills of another longtime fan-approved CFF alum filmmaker, Jill Gevargizian's (THE STYLIST) latest feature, GHOST GAME, to the festival. The film also boasts a screenplay by previously announced guest author/screenwriter Adam Cesare. 

Because CFF tends to lean into the eerie grandeur of its haunted home at The Read House Hotel with events uniquely suited to the vibes, the festival has also announced POE THINGS: AN EDGAR ALLAN SHOW, an event that will explore the death and life of POE, contain a secret screening of one of the greatest film adaptations of POE's work, a live Poe-formance and even another opportunity for guests to get a book they'll surely love signed by the author, Poe biographer Mark Dawidziak and his essential A MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF EDGAR ALLAN POE. The book was recently chosen by Barnes & Noble as its March non-fiction title of the month.

Also back, after playing a pivotal role in the festival's 2023 salute to TALES FROM THE CRYPT are some of CFF's favorite fathers, the DADS FROM THE CRYPT, who'll take part in this year's TWILIGHT ZONE celebration with a special live episode of their show.

If all these films weren't enough, CFF has announced that one of the undisputed hits of its 2023 edition returns. The delicious maximalism of the RED EYE block features a seven-night series of secret screenings that are exclusive to the festival's virtual platform. Guests can expect forgotten gems, special anniversary screenings of cult classics, and indie rarities that won't come to a streaming service near them anytime soon.

And now the eleven films of CFF 2024's First Wave, which contain everything from a hauntingly beautiful ghost story to a mid-life crisis in documentary form to funny and artfully inventive new takes on vampire stories, modern fairytales, and at least one film that features what could be described as a teleportery, witchcrafty, kidnapping adjacent butterfly knife comedy... with time travel. In other words, all the hallmarks the festival knows are adored by the warm-hearted and open-minded fans who have turned the Chattanooga Film Festival into a Summer Camp For Cinephiles.


A Guide to Becoming an Elm Tree

Directors Adam Mann, Skye Mann | Canada 2023

Padraig embarks on a journey to turn a living tree into a coffin for his already dead and buried wife. He bargains his way into an eccentric carpenter's shop. What starts out as an act to help alleviate grief and guilt slowly descends into a harrowing selfish game of discovery; as John pulls Padraig deeper into the world of Irish folklore and ancient magic.



Director Christopher Wilcha | United States 2023

When filmmaker Chris Wilcha revisits the record store he worked at as a teenager in New Jersey, he finds the once-thriving bastion of music and weirdness from his youth slowly falling apart and out of touch with the times. FLIPSIDE documents his tragicomic attempt to revive the store while revisiting other documentary projects he has abandoned over the years. In the process, Wilcha captures This American Life icon Ira Glass in the midst of a creative rebirth, discovers the origin story of David Bowie’s ode to a local New Jersey cable television hero, and uncovers the unlikely connection between jazz photographer Herman Leonard and TV writer David Milch. This disparate collection of stories coheres into something strange and expansive, a moving meditation on music, work, and the sacrifices and satisfaction of trying to live a creative life.

*In-Person Only


Directors Coby Holt, Sam Probst | United States 2023

When the son of a small-town politician develops a crush on his openly gay classmate, he finds himself stalked by a grotesque creature that increasingly inhabits his thoughts and threatens physical harm.


Ghost Game

Director Jill Gevargizian | United States 2024

Presented by DREAD - Participating in an internet challenge that requires breaking into homes and living undetected alongside the residents, a thrill-seeking couple target an infamous haunted house and endure a series of chilling incidents as they witness a family descending into madness.

*In-Person Only

Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person

Director Ariane Louis-Seize | Australia 2024

Sasha is a young vampire with a serious problem: she's too sensitive to kill. When her exasperated parents cut off her blood supply, Sasha's life is in jeopardy. Luckily, she meets Paul, a lonely teenager with suicidal tendencies who is willing to give his life to save hers. But their friendly agreement soon becomes a nocturnal quest to fulfill Paul's last wishes before day breaks.

*In-Person Only


Director Jason Yu | South Korea 2023

A young, expectant wife must figure out how to stop her husband's nightmarish sleepwalking habits before he harms himself or his family.

*In-Person Only

Someone Dies!

Director Justin Petty | United States 2023

*North American Premiere

A deadbeat detective investigates a cryptic note that leads to the discovery of an incomprehensible kitchen sink.


Sweet Relief

Director Nick Verdi | United States 2023

Presented by Art Brut Films. A woman's dangerous inclinations, a sadistic child killer, and a panic surrounding an online murder challenge reveal the insidious violence of a small New England town.


The Vourdalak

Director Adrien Beau | France 2023

Lost in a hostile forest, the Marquis d'Urfé, a noble emissary of the King of France, finds refuge in the home of a strange family.

*In-Person Only

Video Vision

*World Premiere

Director Michael Turney | United States 2023

When an old VCR mysteriously shows up at digitizing facility Video Vision it starts affecting employee Kibby (Andrea Figliomeni) in strange ways. Meanwhile an unlikely romance with a trans man (Chrystal Peterson) has Kibby's head in the clouds until she's brought to her knees by the supernatural force that's slowly taking control of her body and mind. When Kibby and Gator investigate the VCR's origins they discover she has unwittingly unlocked the dark dimension of Dr. Analog.


The Wheel of Heaven

Director Joseph Badon | United States 2024

In this genre-hopping “cinematic mixtape” a woman caught up in predatory relationships is thrown into a multi-layered world of choices after she discovers a mystical book in a thrift store.


Until March 18, film fans can take advantage of the festival's generous Early Bird discounts by visiting the festival’s site at or via the following link:

With its commitment to audience and filmmaker accessibility, its warm-hearted southern hospitality, and its consistently surprising and eclectic programming, the Chattanooga Film Festival has, in just 11 years, been chosen as One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World (MovieMaker Magazine), one of FilmFreeway's Top 100 Best Reviewed Film Festivals in the World out of the nearly 12,000 festivals on that platform, been chosen One of the Best Genre Film (MovieMaker) and Horror Festivals (Dread Central) and hailed as "the gold standard on how to run a welcoming, unpretentious, no-bullshit film fest for folks who want to hang out and have a good time together" by legendary cinema publication FANGORIA.

The Chattanooga Film Festival is a 501c3 non-profit run entirely by a small but passionate crew of volunteers. All proceeds from the festival's ticket and badge sales and donations go directly to the staging of each year's festival. For more information, visit or follow us on InstagramTwitterFacebookTikTok and Youtube or even join our virtual monthly secret screening series, The Double Secret Cinema Society, on Patreon.

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