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IFL crowns best independent horrors of 2023

  • Two-week online selection of movies sees awards distributed for the fourth annual Indy Film Library Halloween Horror Showcase
  • Sando Heijnen wins Best Director for sci-fi Doe Eens Mens, which also scoops Best Film
  • Ali Sineh Baghi Zadeh and Amir Mohtashami take Best Screenplay wreath for social commentary horror Fracture

Since Monday 23rd October 2023, Indy Film Library (IFL) has been streaming some of the best short horror films it has received for review, for free. All six of the films selected are still available to view via the IFL websiteThey will remain there until Monday 6th November 23:00 CET.

As the showcase prepares to draw to a close, however, IFL has announced the winners from the Halloween Horror Showcase shortlist.

The list of accolades distributed sees Best Film handed to Sando Heijnen’s dark sci-fi comedy, Doe Eens MensA fitting horror for an era where governments have become increasingly disconnected from the will of those they govern, the film follows a mother and son as they are subjected to seemingly random and cruel tests, by a checklist-wielding alien bureaucrat, and his young assistant. By dressing their strange and harmful agenda in costumes of a suit-wearing professional, and a younger woman sporting a leather jacket and brightly dyed hair, the invading force parodies the PR tactics of real figures of authority to get ordinary people on board with their agenda by appearing ‘human’ – either masquerading as smartly dressed experts, or trying desperately to show they are ‘down with the kids’.

The film is by Heijnen’s own admission “a slightly atypical horror”, but after initially comedic hints, the film ushers in a creeping sense of hopelessness into the safest spaces of life, with no place to hide from relentless and remorseless authority figures. The slow shift from one to the other ultimately makes it as unnerving as any horror could hope to be, and this also means Heijnen has been named Best Director in this year’s showcase.  

The laurels for Best Actor go to Aurora Sunn, for her work as the protagonist in zombie horror Wounded. Sunn was praised for her performance, which brought a much-needed emotional weight to the production. This was also underwritten by the “eerily understated” and emotive soundtrack she produced for the film – which was picked out for Best Score.

Meanwhile, Ali Sineh Baghi Zadeh and Amir Mohtashami have received the award for Best Screenplay. They pick up the prize for the script to Fracture – a story which follows a young woman trying to access an emergency back-street abortion in Tehran. Pushed to society’s periphery by a law which marginalises and disenfranchises women, she falls prey to a lurking serial murderer. In its review of the film, IFL praised fracture for its confronting of issues which go far beyond the borders of Iran, to nations which are increasingly policing women’s bodies – from the US to the UK.

Elsewhere, Best Editing goes to Hovig Menakian, who pieced together Turned. A second zombie horror in this year’s selection, the film steadily blurs the feverish fantasies of a young mother who is becoming a member of the undead, with a nightmarish reality, as she scrambles to protect her son. The contrast and transition hinges on Menakian’s editing, which produces one of the most subtle yet grisly conclusions ever committed to the IFL vaults.

David Gregory’s atmospheric music video for Long Distance Calling’s supernatural anthem Black Shuck is awarded Best Cinematography. IFL’s review of the film’s look notes that its grainy, black and white imagery places its narrative in “a timeless purgatory”, while also helping make the most of the minimalistic effects on display, turning them into a truly haunting set of visions.

When asked for his advice to other directors when approaching music videos, Gregory recently told IFL, “Be bold and take risks. Especially if the band gives you creative freedom. Music videos are an artform that lets you get away with a lot of unconventional visuals.”

Finally, in the tightly contested Audience Choice category, it was ultimately Wounded which prevailed. Having been neck and neck with other leading contender Fracture for most of the polling, the zombie film eventually shuffled clear, to pick up just over 50% of the popular vote. More information on the film’s production can be found on the Tube Rats podcast, where Luke Furmage and Aurora Sunn discussed the trials and tribulations of survival horror.

Speaking on the 2023 Halloween Horror Showcase, IFL Chief Editor Jack Brindelli commented, “It gives me enormous pleasure to have hosted another successful incarnation of our annual horror showcase. As a lifelong fan of the genre, procuring an annual anthology for our audience is really a dream. As well as congratulating the winners, I have to thank every single artist involved in the films for helping make that dream a nightmarish reality. It has been a joy to champion your work to new audiences around the world.

“As establishment ideology increasingly struggles to translate to the lived experience of the 99%, this has been a year characterised by increasingly brutal government repression, and disconnected media demonisation of ordinary people. I think our most successful horror films have really tapped into the zeitgeist around that: from stories of bureaucratic aliens brutally asserting their authority over a powerless civilian population; to examining how social and legal othering can leave oppressed groups vulnerable to predatory behaviour; or considering how the masses that media narratives encourage us to fear and despise may actually be every bit as human as us.”

Indy Film Library

Based in Amsterdam, Indy Film Library is a film-criticism platform, which delivers insightful feedback to independent filmmakers. It is currently open for its fifth year of submissions.

The organisation also hosts an annual gathering to celebrate the best and brightest up-and-coming talents in the industry. For more information, visit, or email

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