Celluloid Ceiling, Lexi Alexander, and Etheria Film Night

I've missed out on posting a lot of really cool news about women directors lately. I took a huge imaginary trip to Iceland and Spain and have been gone for 6 weeks, which has prevented me from blogging. But since blogging is my full-time, lucrative job, I felt I needed a mini-vacation to the realms of frost giants and Gaudi.

In the past two months, some amazing things have happened that I need to catch up on, and catch you up on. First, did you hear the amazing quotes from director Lexi Alexander (PUNISHER: WARZONE) about sexism in Hollywood? Her statements were re-posted on Indiewire's Women and Hollywood blog in January 2013:

There is no lack of female directors. Repeat after me: THERE IS NO LACK OF FEMALE DIRECTORS. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear, if anyone near me even so much as whispers the sentence "Women probably don't want to direct," my fist will fly as a reflex action.

Side note: The previous statement labels me as "difficult".

Alexander's statement was prompted in part by the baffling treatment she had received earlier in 2013 when fans overwhelmingly supported her as the choice for the director of the all-female EXPENDABLES film. But partly she represents numerous women in the Director's Guild of America that feel they are given unequal treatment when it comes to hiring practices based solely on the basis of their sex. Alexander now self-deprecatingly jokes that she is the new "Gertrude Stein of filmmaking," but largely due to her outspoken attitude recently, and the diligent efforts and research of director Maria Giese and the Women Directors in Hollywood Blog, the ACLU is now conducting its own investigation into any sexism that women directors may face in Hollywood. Get ready for a lawsuit, sexists!

The ACLU's announcement was followed shortly thereafter by comedian Will Ferrell (I know, right? Who knew?)  launching a brand new division of his production company called Gloria Sanchez Productions to spearhead female-led film projects.  Now I have a reason to like Will Ferrell, which is really my one big take-away from this entire thing.

February 2014 was Women in Horror Month, and there were many awesome new film projects, film festivals, articles, exchanges, and artwork created in celebration. But since December 2013, I have been in the process of creating a new film festival (sort of). The Viscera Organization and the Viscera Film Festival officially disbanded in December 2013, with creator Shannon Lark and board member Lori Bowen finishing, screening, and promoting their new psychological-yet-gory horror film I AM MONSTER (you can check it out here at the official website: www.iammonstermovie.com). In January 2014, I decided to revamp the Etheria Film Festival, the science fiction and fantasy film festival that I had put together under the Viscera banner in Boston, Massachusetts, and move it to Hollywood, CA. The new Etheria Film Night will screen not only new science fiction and fantasy, but also horror, thriller, action, and even some comedy and drama – all directed by women. You can check out our official website here: www.etheriafilmnight.com. We'll be screening the selections at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California on July 12th, 2014 with the support of the American Cinematheque.

I also took that 6 weeks off to write a chapter in the film journal Celluloid Ceiling Spring 2014, thanks to the patience of my editor Professor Gabrielle Kelly, of NYU Tisch Singapore. It was fun. I wrote a lot about lesbians and feminism in European film history.

Hard at work on my book about women directors of horror films, I plan to finish that sometime before my 80th birthday. And no I continue blogging about stuff other women are doing. Carry on.

FROZEN Trailer

On November 27, 2013, Disney will release FROZEN, a new fantasy animated feature written and co-directed by Jennifer Lee (she also wrote WRECK-IT RALPH), starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, and Ciarán Hinds.

Check out the first trailer!

Like BRAVE, and hopefully more future fantasy features, FROZEN seems to have a strong female lead character which, you know, I can really get behind.

Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey—teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven—to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad), Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Lee currently has another fantasy feature in the works: John Steinbeck’s “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights” is being produced by Troika Pictures. Like KUNG FU PANDA 2 director Jennifer Yuh and BRAVE's almost-director Brenda Chapman, Lee is pretty much one of very few chicks on the block directing animated mainstream films.

Rachel Johnson's Animated HENRIETTA BULKOLSKI

Since I first saw Rachel Johnson's haunting, animated 2003 short THE TOLL COLLECTOR, I've been eagerly awaiting her newest animated endeavor. I've waited a while! HENRIETTA BULKOLSKI is her latest film, and it also has a seriously beautiful, amazingly original style and depth that most animated films lack.

The sheer craftsmanship of Johnson's designs is astounding, too. Like Sofia Carrillo, Christiane Cegavske, and Isabel Peppard, her live-action puppets are something at which to marvel. You can see some of HENRIETTA BULKOLSKI'S art designs at the film's fundraising page.

Henrietta Bulkowski challenges the concept of beauty and explores themes of determination, acceptance and self-discovery. We have worked hard to create a world that is lush and enigmatic in its uniquely stylized realism, to tell a story that inspires the outsider in all of us. And we can't wait to share it with you!

Johnson's company, Lift Animation, is female-helmed, and dedicated to telling new and innovative stories about men and women. Listen to Rachel talk about HENRIETTA BULKOLSKI in the video below, then watch THE TOLL COLLECTOR afterwards to see what an amazing filmmaker and animator she is!

Films By Women At The Stanley Film Festival

I've been eagerly awaiting the lineup of the Stanley Film Festival, May 2 – 5, 2013 in Estes Park, Colorado, at The Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel in "The Shining"). Now their official lineup is out and they have three short horror films directed by women. Out of 22, that's not a lot, but better than none!

"The Event" is Julia Pott's U.K. animated short about an apocalypse, set to a surreal poem:

Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.

Lucas Leyva and Jillian Mayer are screening their music video "Boreal" for the band  Hundred Waters:

 Hundreds of years before the first Europeans land in Florida, a young Tequesta boy goes hunting in the Everglades. Meanwhile, his prey longs for deeper fulfillment.

"Once it Started, It Could Not End Otherwise" has gotten a lot of press on this site. Directed by Kelly Sears, this animated short is surreal:

Terrifying and strange happenings descend on a 1970’s high school.

Women Directors At Boston Underground 2013

The 2013 Boston Underground Film Festival is screening a number of eclectic sci-fi, fantasy, and horror-inspired features, shorts and music videos directed by women this year.  In particular, I am excited about the short horror film "As Human As Animal" by director Kristina Klebe (we've had our eye on it for a while now). Check out the teaser:

Also exciting is the feature science fiction film "Vanishing Waves", by Kristina Buožyt, which I've been following.

A research scientist uses his own invention to enter the mind of a comatose man where he meets, and becomes sexually attracted to, a mysterious woman.

There are a bunch of other shorts and music videos with fantastic themes and images. "Opiate Girl" is a music video directed by Arturo Cubacub and Sarah Weis:

"Old Man" is an animated short by Leah Shore set to phone conversations between maniac Charles Manson and author Marlin Marynick:

"Ruckus Juice" is a three-minute rotoscope music video  short by Jennifer Deutrom:

Sarah Sitkin directed music video "50 fingers"  for Little Red Lung:

Shannen Ortale and Bryan McKay directed the music video  “BasedExorcism” for Keyboard Kid:




'Killing Vivian' and 'Night of the Loving Dead' At LA Comedy Shorts Fest

"Killing Vivian", a comedy/horror directed by Mandy Fabian, (not to be confused with "Vivienne Again" by Kim Garland), and "Night of the Loving Dead" directed by Anna Humphries are playing as official selections of the 2013 LA Comedy Shorts Fest April 4th through 7th.

"Killing Vivian" is a truly dark comedy starring Missy Pyle:

Megan is right there to help her best friend David cope with the news that his beloved companion is dying.  But when Megan's good intentions turn into a jealous obsession, David must make the most difficult decision yet…which one of them does he lose?  Killing Vivian is a dark comedy about undying friendship, true devotion, and one…crazy…bitch.

No trailer yet, but I do have a low-res pic of Missy Pyle as "Megan" and two different posters for the film:

"Night of the Loving Dead" is an animated short made through the National Film & Television School in the UK.

Nigel is a lovesick teenager living under the tyranny of his wicked sex-obsessed stepmother, Barbara. But he gets more than he bargained for on Valentine's Eve when he accidentally brings his old girlfriend, Felicity, back from the dead.

'Monsterous Murders': Stop-Motion Horror

"Monsterous Murders" is a new two-minute stop-motion puppet animation directed by Sarah Davison and Sarah Duffield ("T is for Top Hat"), set in Victorian times. It is, indeed, about a series of monstrous murders. The duo has been making stop-motion animated horrors for some time, together, and have an extensive and unique resume. They're currently seeking funding to finish this morbid little curiosity, and I certainly hope they get it.

According to the directors,

We have already completed the storyboard and animatic, and have started building a small section of one of the sets, and a rough version of the puppet that we used in our test shot, as seen in our video.

This is Sarah and Sarah in a video explaining exactly what "Monstrous Murders" will be like: