The New York City Horror Film Festival was founded in 2001 by film director and producer Michael J. Hein. The Hein family has been involved with film industry and the horror genre for the past several decades. Since Hein’s untimely death in 2011, the festival has been managed by a close-knit team of film industry professionals including Sean Marks, Chris Rowan, Kimberly Magness, Nixida Toro, Adam Torkel, Alan Rowe Kelly, and Bart Mastronardi.
Every year, the festival program features more than 50 horror films by both established filmmakers and up-and-coming directors. The NYC Horror Film Festival focuses on independent films, which is not surprising at all as horror movies have never particularly been a mainstream genre.
Since the NYC Horror Film Festival is international, films from any country are eligible for participation. There festival also holds no “world premiere” or “competition date” status regulations. However, films released on DVD are not eligible. Besides, films selected to screen at the NYCHFF must not screen in the state of New York or New Jersey at least one month before the festival.The NYCHFF is a competitive film festival. Every year the jury awards prizes in several sections such as Best Horror Feature, Best Sci-Fi Feature Film, Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Special Effects, and Best Sound Design.
Besides, there is the Audience Award given out according to the results of an audience vote. It is awarded to the best feature film and sometimes also to the best short film. In 2002, the festival team introduced the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognize the careers of legendary horror filmmakers. This award has become one of the most respected awards in the genre. The first filmmaker to receive the award was American-Canadian film director and screenwriter George A. Romero best known for Night of the Living Dead and other horror movies that deal with zombie apocalypse themes.