ACE Scholarship Recipient: Ellen Boyd & Frightfest

Ellen Boyd is another one of our very own UCEAP students who received the ACE Scholarship award! Coming all the way from UC Santa Barbara to study abroad at the University of Edinburgh, Ellen wanted to make the most of her time abroad by attending Frightfest 2019, the horror film festival.

Read on to hear what she has to say about the experience:

Attending Frightfest 2019 was important to me because horror events are generally few and far between, and to have one so close to me is rare. As both a fan and future scholar of the horror genre, Frightfest offered me the opportunity to watch films from new creators as well as interact with other fans of the genre. 

The films I attended were Level 16 by Danishka Esterhazy, The Dead Center by Billy Senese and The Rusalka by Perry Blackshear. All of them ranged broadly on their topics and what they chose as the source of their horror, which offered me a broad range of examples for how people are playing with the genre.

In addition to the films, a short film was shown before each film, which offered insights into possible up-and-coming feature film makers in the genre. Level 16 was my favorite film of Frightfest, being a dystopiantale of gender. As someone who plans to focus on gender in the horror genre in postgraduate study, I will definitely keep this film in my reference books as an example of how the horror genre is changing in its’ representation of women. 

Not only were the films interesting, but interacting with the other people who attended Frightfest was valuable as well. The horror community is not a particularly large one, so to be able to be with so many in one place was a new and really enjoyable experience for me. It was easy to discuss the plots, themes, visuals, etc. of the films. since the people there already had background knowledge of the genre.

Frightfest also gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge and theories that I learned in my Mystery and Horror Literature class. I was able to compare how horror was used in the more traditional literature of the genre that we were studying, as well as criticism, and see where similarities, departures, and new paths in horror were being made. 

As a full time student, attending a multi-day film festival that was out of town seemed a little daunting to balance with my school work. However, the scholarship motivated me and signaled to me that EAP wants students to take their learning outside the classroom. In between film screenings I got to explore Glasgow. This was also a valuable experience as Glasgow is very different from Edinburgh, where I am studying, and so it let me experience more of Scotland as a whole. 

Ellen Boyd