Jesús Palacios presents The Freakiest Night’s latest edition, featuring three sessions and starring young women in extreme situations


• The programmer of the section, which this year has been increased to three nights featuring a short film and a feature film each, maintained that this is the “Freakiest” edition of the festival, thanks to the cycles dedicated to Ana Lily Armirpour and Toshirō Mifune

• “The current streaming platforms’ offer is paradoxical: on the one hand, they facilitate genre productions around the world, pushing these filmmakers forward, but then their films go unnoticed because the same old superheroes and monsters’ movies are promoted instead”

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. Jesús Palacios is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival’s freakiest soul: the writer, journalist and advocate of the most alternative fantastic genre is also the programmer of a section consisting for the first time of three consecutive nights featuring a short film and a feature film each. They will take place on April 25, 26 and 27 at Cine Yelmo Las Arenas. Each feature film revolves around a young teenage girl in an extreme and terrifying situation, “something that hasn’t been premeditated, though it’s true that we’ll see in each screening these young women in trouble inhabiting a crazy and sinister world.”

Palacios himself will present the screenings to the audience. Something he has already advanced this Wednesday, April 24, to the media at the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium. He began by pointing out that “this year the whole festival is feeling very freak, with the section dedicated to Ana Lily Armipour, whose movies could’ve been included in The Freakiest Night, and also with the cycle dedicated to Mifune, featuring films like Red Sun,” he noted.

Palacios explained that he has “tried to include the most transversal and marginal trends of current fantastic cinema, far from what’s offered in commercial theaters and streaming platforms. It’s increasingly complicated to find original titles, with all this offer, but programming also becomes a more satisfying task.”

Regarding that, he highlighted “the great reception The Freakiest Night has had in each festival edition,” either as its previous wild sessions encompassing the screenings of three feature films and as many short films in the same night, or as the post-pandemic two different sessions in consecutive nights. He remarked that in 2024 they have finally “recovered the same amount of content, three short films and three feature films,” to expand the section to three nights “with all its freak spirit and essence intact.”

He also noted this fantastic section’s relevance, “which celebrates its 24th edition when the festival is celebrating its 23rd. That’s pretty freak, too.”

Three nights of screenings

The 23rd Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival’s The Freakiest Night section will be divided into three intense nights for freak fans, who will have to save more dates than ever for this event.

The first of them will take place this Thursday, April 25 (10 p.m., Cine Yelmo Las Arenas Screen 5) with a single screening featuring the short film Rainer, a Vicious Dog in a Skull Valley (Bertrand Mandico, France, 2023) and the feature film El día es largo y oscuro (The Day Is Long and Dark) (Julio Hernández Cordón, Mexico, Colombia, 2024), which will premiere in Europe as part of the Film Festival. 

Mandico’s 26-minute-long piece introduced the disturbing Octavia Foss: a woman capable of making a pact with a demon in order to make her dream come true. That is, to stage a female version of Conan the Barbarian in the theater. “It’s a crazy story that plays with cinema within cinema, reflecting on the shooting of his feature film Connan,” Palacios explained. 

In Hernández Cordón’s case, he has filmed a feature capable of making the audience stand on end: El día es largo y oscuro (The Day is Long and Dark). Its main character is Vera, a teenage girl who literally bites her loved ones, but will Cruz, her father, be able to calm her instincts?

Palacios continued saying that “Latin American fantastic cinema is growing and getting more relevance.” Cordón’s movie, he added, is “an authentic gem exhibiting a whole different conception within the vampire subgenre, with a very important poetic aura. And with a hyper-realistic film treatment, almost at ground level, that displays very peculiar eroticism. Without ceasing to be, of course, ‘extreme horror cinema’.”

The second freak installment the Festival has scheduled will take place the next night, April 26, (10:15 p.m., Cine Yelmo Las Arenas Screen 5) with Periquitos (Parakeets) ( (Alex Rey, Spain, 2024) and Faces of Anne (Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Rasiguet Sookkarn, Thailand, 2022). Rey’s animated short film stars Miyazaki himself. The great animation master announces his retirement, but his muses have other plans for him.

Rey thus returns to the festival, where he has always been very well received, with pieces such as Phonorama (2022) or The Amazing Vaccine of Dr. Dickinson (2020). This time, he offers a title that explains why Miyazaki did not definitively abandon cinema to make The Boy and the Heron. “A hilarious short film,” Palacios summed it up in a very graphic way.

Anne, the main character of Jaturanrasamee and Sookkarn’s Thai film, is a woman who wakes up in a dumpy hotel room with no idea how she got there. The worst, however, is yet to come for her, in a terrifying battle for her survival.

Palacios described the film as “one of the most original proposals we have seen in recent years, which avoided the radar of specialized genre festivals.” The programmer pointed out that this title “fluctuates between horror, science fiction and the psychological thriller.”

The Freakiest Night closes with a third screening on Saturday, April 27 (10 p.m., Cine Yelmo Las Arenas Screen 5), featuring La Vedova Nera (fiume, Julian McKinnon, 2023, France) and Vampire humaniste cherche suicidaire consentant (Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person) (Ariane Louis-Seize, Canada, 2023.). 

The short film La Vedova Nera depicts the situation of Alfredo, a young Italian student who, after having a bicycle accident on the streets of Marseille, receives a call for help from a porn cinema that seems to have come from another era.

The piece was submitted to the festival’s competition, “and then it came to me,” explained Palacios, who programmed it without hesitation as part of the Freak section, “where it belongs.” The short film, he added, “has a very cinephile tone, with a shocking music score and a perverse look that reminds us of that Italian cinema of Argento, for example.”

In Ariane Louis-Seize’s film, the conflict around which the story revolves is a bizarre one. At its center is Sasha, a young vampire who refuses to kill. Fed up with the situation, her parents cut off her blood supply. much to the upset of her parents, who cut off her blood supply. She then meets Paul, a teenager with suicidal tendencies.

For Palacios, this is “the highlight” of the whole program, with a “bittersweet comedy” tone. The film, he stressed, “is perhaps one of the most intelligent, brilliant and amusing proposals in recent years. In a certain way it’s related to the 80s’ vampire films, but with a very defined style of its own.”

Current commercial offer

Jesús Palacios reflected on the current streaming platforms’ freak offer. Questioned about his perception of what is available to the average viewer, he said that “everything has its upsides and downsides. The platforms’s offer is paradoxical: it’s true that they help a lot of freak filmmakers to shoot interesting things. But at the same time the offer is so wide, and such a bombardment, that many of these films are lost. Even more so because the platform itself promotes the most standard products. Those other freak productions go more unnoticed.”

“You can’t see the wood from the trees, in this sense,” he concluded. “Excellent films of this kind of fantastic cinema are produced all over the world and then go unnoticed, while we don’t let the same old vampires, superheroes and monsters go unseen. That’s why it’s sometimes worth recovering some of these titles.” Something this edition of the festival has done with The Outside, the episode Ana Lily Armipour directed for Guillermo del Toro’s tv series The Cabinet of Curiosities, and which “she considers a film.”

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