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.

LONG LIVE THE KING – The New King Kong Documentary

I wrote about Trish Geiger's documentary BEAST WISHES last year for Famous Monsters of Filmland. Then, I saw that she and her co-director Frank Dietz were up to a new zombie mockumentary, which really looked awesome. Now, Geiger and Dietz are making a new King Kong documentary about the legendary monster icon titled LONG LIVE THE KING. Dietz is a well-known monster aficionado, and Geiger is an avid filmmaker with a keen interest in personalities, connections, and relationships, so I expect this documentary will touch on how the character of King Kong as well as the original 1933 film has shaped American pop culture, childhoods, and the history of monster movies. There are also some very talented interviewees such as Frank Darabont, Greg Nicotero, and Rick Baker. Perhaps even Peter Jackson, if they can pull it off!

Watch a bit about LONG LIVE THE KING in this fundraising video:

You can watch A ZOMBIE NEXT DOOR in entirety online, right here:

Juliet Landau's Vampire Documentary

Juliet Landau has really come into her own in the last 5 years as a documentarian. First, there was the behind-the-scenes documentary TAKE FLIGHT, which followed Gary Oldman as he directed a music video which he shot on a cell phone. TAKE FLIGHT began Landau's journey as a director. Her second film, co-directed with Deverill Weekes, was DREAM OUT LOUD: a short documentary about the creative process of brilliant make-up artist Kazuhiro Tsuji.

This new Juliet Landau vampire documentary, about vampires in popular culture and myth, is a feature-length endeavor that went into production in September, 2013. One of Landau's first interviewees? Anne Rice. I hear Tom Holland (FRIGHT NIGHT) is about to get involved as well.

Landau will also be filming a panel at the upcoming Comikaze Convention in Los Angeles; she's moderating the panel about vampires and the footage will be included in the documentary. The panelists include David Greenwalt (co-creator of ANGEL and GRIMM), Jim Kouf (co-creator of GRIMM and consulting producer on ANGEL), Mariana Klaveno ("Lorena" on TRUE BLOOD), David J (BAUHAUS and LOVE AND ROCKETS), Gavin Hignight (Fearnet.com), and Georges Jenty (comic book artist on BUFFY Seasons 8 and 9).

Juliet Landau vampire Panel

 

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES Documentary Trailer Debut

Stacy Buchanan and Jessica Barnthouse have finally released the teaser to their new  SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES documentary. The feature-length doc explores the connection between New England and contemporary horror culture (think: Stephen King, Amityville, Salem Witch Trials, Lovecraft, Indian burial grounds, Pet Semataries, Jersey Devils, Stuff Like That).

The film will dissect popular conventions of the horror genre, identifying how they’re driven by the eerie settings, history, and social issues of the area. And through discussions with genre luminaries, local directors, horror fans, and New England natives, we'll also discover if the area’s history and passion for horror are strong enough to grow an independent film industry.

The film has a stellar interviewee cast (directors Rebekah McKendry and Izzy Lee, for instance) and it's filled with the kind of romantic, Gothic, in-depth horror appreciation that makes American horror culture so much fun for fans. More news as screenings/stuff comes my way!

Check out the teaser:

Axelle Carolyn's SOUL MATE And More Women Directors At Sitges 2013

Axelle Carolyn's ghost story SOULMATE is going to have its world premiere at the 2013 Sitges Film Festival in, well, Sitges, Spain! Her feature debut film involves a female protagonist, a dark country house, and brooding cinematography (hint: GOTHIC stuff that I like!). The official synopsis reads,

Following a failed suicide attempt, Audrey, a young widow, retires to an isolated country house. It won’t be long before she discovers that the spirit of its old owner still inhabits the place. Even so, Audrey decides to overcome her fear and stay, trusting that she’ll finally reach a somewhat harmonious relationship with the ghost.

No trailer yet for Carolyn's film, but she's in good company at the festival: there are a bunch of other women directors showing off their talents (though not as many in the competition features selections as I'd like to see).

First, it's not really that "fantastic" per se, but Gabriela Cowperthwaite's new documentary BLACKFISH is gut-wrenching, moving, tragic, and awesome – and that's just the trailer. I can't wait to see this film about a killer whale named Tilikum, who has literally killed several people as he has been held in captivity his whole life. You have to look at this:

Marina de Van's DARK TOUCH, about a young girl with telekinetic powers, is also screening (even though it's already out officially in several countries including the US, which is why it is out of competition)(. Yes, like CARRIE but with a MUCH darker approach:

Xan Cassavetes' pretentious vampire drama KISS OF THE DAMNED, also out of competition as it has been released already, is part of Sitges official programming:

There are a slew of animated, surreal shorts with women directors. but I'll just tell you about a few of the live-action short films that I think look particularly interesting.

ECCE MULIER, directed by Vanessa Pavie-Crottier, looks really creepy. The teaser shows men violently eating the least-appetizing porridge you've ever seen:

LA NUMERO 4, directed by Sara Pons Garrido, has a very ominous synopsis and trailer:

The fourth girl has managed to escape from her kidnappers. Dazed, she must face her fears and recall her terrifying captivity if she wants to save the other young girls who are still being held prisoners.

Last is Mia'kate  Russell's SWALLOW. Russell is an Aussie makeup artist, so I'm expecting some pretty amazing things from this film. It looks like we'll get some great effects. Enjoy this poster:

Mia Kate Russell Swallow
The festival happens October 11th through 20th, 2013, and is bound to be one of the best years yet. Wish I could be there to catch these in person!

Pamela Green's Alice Guy Documentary BE NATURAL

Director Pamela Green is embarking on an ambitious, but thought-provoking, documentary film examination of the life and work of Alice Guy Blache, the first woman director, titled BE NATURAL. Guy was a French woman who, in 1895, was one of the first people to shoot moving pictures for a major company. Guy is also the first woman to direct a horror, sci-fi, or fantasy film, as well as possibly the first person to shoot a narrative film (that's debated widely).

The Alice Guy documentary BE NATURAL will explore exactly why Guy disappeared from the mainstream film scene in the early 1920s, as well as her legacy. Watch Green's trailer, (narrated by director Jodie Foster):

Appearing in the film are female directors Diablo Cody, Catherine Hardwicke (TWILIGHT), Floria Sigismondi (THE RUNAWAYS), Cheryl Hines (SERIOUS MOONLIGHT), Julie Delpy (THE COUNTESS), Julie Taymor (THE TEMPEST), and Guy biographer Alison McMahan. The film is currently raising funds, and I can't think of a better way to waste 20 bucks today (first world problems).

Guy is a big part of the first chapter of my taking-forever-to-finish book about the history of female horror film directors. Guy directed the first fantasy film in 1895, LA FEE AUX CHOUX (THE CABBAGE FAIRY):

As well as the first horror/comedies:

Her 1906 film LES RESULTATS DU FEMINISME (THE CONSEQUECES OF FEMINISM) and her 1912 film IN THE YEAR 2000 (unfortunately, that one is now lost) were both set in science fiction futures in which gender roles were reversed with interesting (and at the time, humorous) results. Check out LES RESULTATS DU FEMINISME:

Guy also was responsible for adapting the gothic tales THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME and DR. FAUST, as well as Edgar Allan Poe's THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM to some of their first film versions. She also dabbled in mystery, thrillers, and comedies.

FANARCHISTS: THE FAN FILM PHENOMENON

Word (and by word I mean, email from Donna) on the street (my Facebook inbox) has it that director Donna Davies (she directed the horror-themed documentaries PRETTY BLOODY, about women in horror, NIGHTMARE FACTORY, about KNBFX studios and Greg Nicotero, and ZOMBIE MANIA about, well, zombies) is making a new documentary called FANARCHISTS: THE FAN FILM PHENOMENON. She describes it as a doc about the "ultimate influence of fans on the film industry."

A "fanarchist" is someone, I suppose, who is a huge fan, but opposed to government or private control of ideas, movements, ideologies, and using them for personal and private profit. Vive La Revolution! Thus, a fanarchist filmmaker would take their favorite films and make their own versions. You know, we've all heard of a STAR WARS fan film. But should people be allowed to make them? Don't they belong to the studios? Is it time to overthrow the fucking government and make healthcare and college free? Join me in taking down the fucking capitalists that have oppressed us all!

Shooting NOW at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con (where else?) she will also be doing some interviews in Los Angeles, California, in September 2013 (possibly I may be saying a few unimportant, but very entertaining, words on the subject for her).

The doc will tackle questions like "Why is copyright necessary? Who owns stories?" in relation to stuff like, you know, Disney copyrighting a 300 year old German folk tale, for instance. Davies will also be asking fans how low-cost production tools have changed the playing field of films, and if Hollywood has good reason to worry now that, as she puts it, "barbarians are at the gates."

I'll keep you posted on how awesome I was in my interview after Donna shoots in September, 2013. Check out some of Davies' other work in the meantime:

 

Juliet Landau's DREAM OUT LOUD Doc

Juliet Landau recently directed, with famed photographer Deverill Weekes, a short documentary (she's made a few) about  make up artist Kazuhiro Tsuji called DREAM OUT LOUD. Hiro was a protege of Dick Smith, and has done FX on genre films like PLANET OF THE APES and LOOPER.
The doc includes interviews with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Star of LOOPER, LINCOLN), Rian Johnson (Writer and Director of LOOPER), and Guillermo del Toro (Director of PANS LABYRINTH, HELLBOY).
Landau recently directed another documentary called TAKE FLIGHT: Landau followed Gary Oldman, who was directing a music video on his cell phone camera, and captured his process and made it her process, thereby showing Wes Craven what "meta" really is. I'm extremely interested in what Landau will do next; it seems that documentaries about the artistically-driven are her passion. I expect we'll see more of them.

Check out the trailer and enjoy!

Dream Out Loud Documentary Juliet Landau

Trailer For Marina Zenovich's Polanski Follow-Up 'Odd Man Out'

In 2008, Marina Zenovich directed a documentary about director Roman Polanksi; his tragic loss of wife Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson Family, as well as his involvement in a scandal as the result of having sex with a 13-year old in 1978. It's a great documentary (in fact, here's my review) and Zenovich decided to continue filming when, in 2010, Polanski was held under house arrest in Switzerland for his 1978 child-molester-y crime.

I am a fan of documentaries that follow the lives of people who made genre films, so I always include them in my discussions of female genre film directors. Polanksi, with "The Fearless Vampire Killers", "Rosemary's Baby", and "The Tenant" on his resume, is most certainly a genre film figure, and by default makes Zenovich's documentaries films about genre film.

Check out the new trailer for "Odd Man Out", which picks up where "Wanted and Desired" left off:

 

Emily Stewart's 'Economic Impact of Lord of the Rings'

Emily Stewart's short webseries "Minute MBA" is really quite something – and in this new episode she discusses Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" from an economic standpoint:

Alasdair Stuart interviewed Stewart briefly on his blog about the impact of this video, and of Lord of the Rings, in general, on our economic culture:

There’s some incredible numbers thrown around in there, especially as you openly admit you’re being a little conservative.  What’s the bracket for the total sales of the books?

For book sales, LOTR is listed at 150,000,000. But note, The Hobbit is estimated at over 100,000,000 by itself and we aren’t counting used books.

What do you think has led to the LOTR movies being so successful?
As far as the success behind the LOTR movies, I think it all started with Peter Jackson’s ability to understand how to translate these books and adapt them as movies. In other words, while he managed to stay faithful to the original novels, his priority was making sure the story translated well as a film (as opposed to just trying to stay absolutely true to the books). Beyond that, once you combine popularity of the series, and the high production value, it made for a wonderful adaptation that both long-time fans and new audiences could enjoy.

Have you seen The Hobbit yet? If so what did you think?
While I think it captured a lot of the playfulness and light-heartedness of the original books, I was curious as to why they chose to make it a three-part film series. Not sure if I’m completely on board with that idea as I fear it might unnecessarily cause it to be drawn out longer than it should be (as a film, at least). However, all in all I was content with the first movie – I was particularly amazed at Gollum’s facial expressions in this one and the overall advancement of CG tech since the LOTR films.

 

New England Horror Documentary 'Something Wicked' Begins

"Something Wicked This Way Comes" is an American horror documentary about contemporary horror culture in the New England region of the United States from Stacy Buchanan and Jessica Barnthouse.

This film will explore the connection between contemporary horror culture and New England. (Think Lovecraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Salem, Stephen King,  the creepy native and colonial history, eerie settings, and social issues that are explored in horror originating from that area). Interviews with local fans and horror luminaries in the area, Buchanan and Barnthouse hope to uncover some fun and important reasons why New England's brand of horror is so distinct.

There's currently a fundraiser going for "Something Wicked", or you can watch the video below for more information on this intriguing coming-soon:

Something Wicked