The Skull Island Festival (ISLA- CALAVERA fantasy film festival): Building a Local and National Audience

The Skull Island Festival, held annually in the Canary Islands, is making waves in the horror film industry. In an exclusive interview with co-directors Ramon Gonzalez and Daniel Fumero, they shed light on the festival’s origins, its growth, and its aspirations for the future.

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The Skull Island Festival (ISLA- CALAVERA fantasy film festival): Building a Local and National Audience

The festival, which focuses on fantastic cinema, was born out of a group of friends’ passion for classic films. Starting small, the festival has grown steadily over the years, with each edition showcasing more enthusiasm and dedication. Now in its seventh year, the festival has become a must-attend event for horror film enthusiasts.


One of the festival’s key objectives is to establish strong connections within the horror film community. Ramon Gonzalez who was interviewed by SAXSMAG’s contributor, Anabel R. Westermeyer at Horror Film festival in San Sebastián emphasizes the importance of building friendships and partnerships with other festivals, such as the horror week in San Sebastian. These connections not only enhance the festival’s reputation but also create a sense of camaraderie among organizers and attendees.


While the festival aims to attract international attention, its primary focus is on cultivating a local and national audience. The Canary Islands, known for their tourism appeal, provide a unique opportunity to leverage their popularity and promote the festival on a larger scale. However, the co-directors acknowledge the challenges of competing with established festivals like Sitges, which have a long-standing international reputation.

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To overcome these challenges, the Skull Island Festival is taking a grassroots approach. They are actively working to educate and engage the local community, particularly young people, about the festival and the horror genre. Collaborating with universities, schools, and institutes, the festival organizers are introducing students to the world of film festivals, explaining how they work, and encouraging them to become festival-goers.


Despite the setbacks caused by the pandemic, the festival continues to grow its audience. Ramon Gonzalez acknowledges that the festival’s main focus now is to generate a dedicated fan base, a group of people who actively consume and support film festivals. This effort is particularly crucial in their province, where the tradition of film festivals is not as deeply rooted as in other parts of the Canary Islands.


The festival’s success is also attributed to the support it receives from the public administration. While there is room for improvement, the city of La Laguna, where the festival takes place, has shown a commitment to nurturing cultural events. This support has contributed to La Laguna’s rise as one of the top cultural reference points in the Canary Islands.


As the Skull Island Festival continues to evolve, its co-directors remain dedicated to their mission of creating a unique and immersive experience for horror film enthusiasts. With their focus on building a local and national audience, the festival is poised to become a prominent player in the horror film industry, both within Spain and internationally.

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In this exclusive interview, Daniel Fumero the co-director of the Festival de Cine Fantástico de Canarias Isla calavera, Ciudad de la Laguna, shared insights into the festival’s mission, audience engagement, and film selection process. Fumero, along with his colleague Vanessa Bocanegra, is responsible for the festival’s graphic design, programming coordination, and communication.


The festival, which takes place from the 10th to the 19th of November, with some pre-events on the 8th and 7th, aims to create a vibrant and inclusive community of film enthusiasts. Fumero expressed his desire to see the festival’s audience grow, much like the tradition seen in San Sebastian, where generations of families come together to celebrate cinema. He emphasized the importance of audience participation, whether it be through attending events, sharing their experiences, or returning year after year.


When asked about the selection process for feature films, Fumero revealed that the festival begins working on the next edition as soon as the current one ends. They open a call for entries in August and also invite films from other festivals such as Cannes, Austin, Sitges, and San Sebastian. Fumero explained that they strive to curate a diverse and entertaining lineup that represents the best of fantastic cinema from around the world.


The festival also provides a platform for new projects and emerging talents. Fumero mentioned their selection process for these projects, emphasizing the importance of entertaining cinema that resonates with the audience. He highlighted the commercial success of fantastic cinema and the festival’s aim to introduce the genre to the Canary Islands audience. Fumero expressed his passion for both conventional horror films and documentaries, which offer insights into the secrets and behind-the-scenes of the industry.

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The Fantastic Film Festival of Canary Islands, known for its thrilling and thought-provoking lineup, aims to create an immersive experience for its audience. From feature films to documentaries, the festival offers a diverse range of cinematic experiences that captivate and entertain. With its dedicated team of organizers and a growing community of film enthusiasts, the festival continues to make its mark on the cultural landscape of the Canary Islands.



Ramon Gonzales, the co director for Skull Island, also discussed the current state of horror and fantasy films. When asked about the decline in popularity of movies like The Exorcist, Ramon acknowledged that these genres may not be as trendy as they once were. However, the two directors emphasized that there is still a demand for such films, and Skull Island strives to cater to a diverse audience.


The directors revealed that every year, they ensure that the programming at Skull Island includes a variety of genres, not just vampires and exorcisms. They aim to present films that explore different themes, such as zombies, drama, and even blogging. By incorporating elements of fantasy into these genres, the festival directors believes that movies can not only entertain but also convey important moral messages and reflect reality.


When asked about the audience in Tenerife and the Canary Islands, the festival directors described them as respectful and appreciative. While they may not be as vocal during screenings, this allows filmmakers to feel more secure when presenting their work. However, Skull Island also caters to those seeking a more raucous experience with their horror punk or fantasy punk sections. These screenings are specifically designed for a more hooligan-like audience who enjoy a wilder cinematic experience.

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Ramon Gonzalez and Daniel Fumero

In the SAXSMAG interview, Daniel Fumero, a representative and director from the Canary Islands Fantastic Film Festival, discussed the attraction and trends among younger audiences. The festival, held in the city of La Laguna, aims to educate and engage the younger generation in the experience of watching movies in a theater setting.


Daniel Fumero highlighted the efforts of the festival’s non-profit association, Charras de Cine, in organizing various activities throughout the year. These activities include screenings of classic films, talks, debates, and even gifts for the audience. The goal is to recreate the feeling of watching a movie in one sitting without interruptions, something that may be lost in the age of streaming platforms.


The festival also reaches out to high schools, encouraging interaction and discovery among students. Daniel Fumero acknowledged that streaming platforms have attempted to draw viewers away from movie theaters in recent years, but there is now a resurgence of interest in attending film events. Events like Barbie and fantastic cinema, as well as movies with fantastic elements, have attracted audiences to theaters once again.


The Skull Island Festival, the highlight of the year, aims to make each film screening an event that cannot be replicated at home. Daniel Fumero mentioned the success of other events such as the Spanish film showcase and the film dinner, where dishes from movies are served to enhance the cinematic experience. These efforts are slowly spreading the passion for cinema and film appreciation throughout Canarian society.


SAXSMAG expressed their interest in the festival and thanked Fumero and Gonzales for their time. They also encouraged people to attend the festival en masse, emphasizing the unique opportunity to meet actors and directors and engage in conversations with them.


The Canary Islands Fantastic Film Festival is set to be a thrilling experience from November 10th to 19th in Tenerife. With a range of films, special guests, and events like the King Kong Day celebrating the 90th anniversary of the iconic ape, the festival promises to be an unforgettable experience. Attendees will have the chance to not only watch films but also interact with the industry professionals, making it a must-attend event for film enthusiasts.


In conclusion, the Canary Islands Fantastic Film Festival promises to be an unforgettable experience for movie enthusiasts. With its diverse selection of films, engaging activities, and the chance to meet industry professionals, the festival aims to reignite the love for cinema and create lasting memories for all who attend.