XX Anthology: Horror Directed By Women

I leave the Internet for a few hours to get my mustache waxed and the next thing I know, this big project is announced! I have been looking forward to this announcement for some time since director Jovanka Vuckovic told me this was brewing, and I've secretly yearned to know the details. Now we have them!

Jovanka Vuckovic is really the driving force behind this anthology of horror segments all directed by women. It was her initial spark that gave this project the power it has: she gathered some of the best female horror directors of our time: Mary Harron (AMERICAN PSYCHO), Karyn Kusama (JENNIFER'S BODY), Jennifer and Sylvia Soska (AMERICAN MARY), Jennifer Lynch (CHAINED), and animator Sofia Carrillo (PRITA NOIRE) for the first female-directed  horror film anthology.

XX is the title, but there are no plot descriptions yet. The anthology will also feature female leads.

From the official press release:

Producer Todd Brown said, "One of the givens of so many horror films has been the objectification of young women, and we thought it was time for a different approach to scaring audiences and letting the female voice be heard."

Greg Newman, EVP of Dark Sky Films' parent company, MPI Media Group says, "We know that women make up about half of the audience for horror films, and yet the female creative voice has been nearly silent in the horror genre. So we are thrilled about the new and distinct approach that these talented directors will bring to the project."

But I would rather hear from Vuckovic or the other directors, dudes!

I'm on this like I'm on horror films directed by women (white on rice).

XX horror anthology directed by women

20 Women Directors For The New EXPENDABLES Movie

Recently, it was announced that the producers behind the new EXPENDABLES movie are seeking a female director to helm the project. I decided to make a list of 20 women directors for the new EXPENDABLES movie because, frankly, I haven't seen that many suggested aside from Lexi Alexander (PUNISHER: WARZONE) and Kathryn Bigelow (Do I need to tell you?).

I am always surprised when people say “there aren’t that many women action film directors.” I mean, I guess I’m not surprised, really, because overall there are way more men directing, in general, than women, so it will always appear that there are fewer women directing films of all genres.

But there is a really long legacy of women directing action and thriller films on our planet. Even Alice Guy Blache, the first female filmmaker, (I know you're all sick of hearing about her, whatevs) directed several one-reel action sequences, like these:

A heist flick:

And this one, titled SURPISE ATTACK ON A HOUSE AT DAYBREAK:

And those are free to watch, public domain, on the Internet.

Guy Blache aside, I’m looking at a stack of movies on my desk, like the recent DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK from Jen and Sylvia Soska, AIR COLLISION by Liz Adams, the AGENT 15 series by Paget Brewster, Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s Asylumspoitation SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE’S SHERLOCK HOLMES, Katrina del Mar’s SURF GANG, Nikka Kalashkinova’s high-octane JUPITER LOVE…And those are just random, lesser-known indies from the last ten years.

I also have a stack of flicks that I’m surprised no one mentions when they talk about action directed by women, like Roberta Findlay’s 1985 THE TENEMANT:

Barbara Peeter’s 1971 biker flick BURY ME AN ANGEL:

Dorothy Ann Puzo’s COLD STEEL, and Czinzia Th Torrini’s HOTEL COLONIAL from 1988:

and Virginia Stone’s 1975 adventure TREASURE OF THE JAMAICA REEF (AKA EVIL IN THE DEEP) starring Cheryl Ladd:

And these are all before mentioning that really iconic 1970s exploitation/action flick TERMINAL ISLAND directed by the first woman Roger Corman ever hired to direct a film, Stephanie Rothman:

And, folks, I haven’t even started talking about the mainstream movies by Kathryn Bigelow and Mimi Leder yet! But let’s get to the point. This is supposed to be an article about women who have what it takes to direct the new EXPENDABLES sequel, insultingly titled EXPENDABELLES (which, director Lori Bowen points out, means they should retitle the first two films “EXPENDABALLS”). These directors have the career backgrounds and necessary experience to direct this movie. Of course they all have different styles and would bring completely different sets of skills, personalities, and style to the movies, so it is a matter of personal taste and preference as to whom would be the best woman for the job.

1) Lexi Alexander

Alexander is my first choice simply because I know she has a large fan base from her PUNISHER: WARZONE days and is actually able to choreograph her own fight sequences if need be. Her previous film GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS was what got her that job, actually, and it has numerous action sequences, tension, and won, like, 5,000,00000 awards. She also has a svelte sense of humor and doesn’t take herself too seriously, which I think is a prerequisite for directing something as stupid as THE EXPENDABELLES, right?

You can hear Lexi describe her experiences making PUNISHER: WARZONE on the great podcast HOW DID THIS GET MADE? which has endeared her to many a new fan.

2) Mimi Leder

Leder, you may or may not remember, directed the action/sci-fi blockbuster DEEP IMPACT and the action/thriller THE PEACEMAKER in the late 1990s. Leder also has a slew of crime/action TV series under her belt. Since then, she’s been considered for a few other action films like the remake of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, but so far has stuck to TV like recent episodes of SHAMELESS.

3) Lana Wachowski

Wachowski, as one of “the” Wachowskis, was one of the creators of the original MATRIX series. With SPEED RACER and CLOUD ATLAS also under her belt, and the new sci-fi extravaganza JUpITER ASCENDING in post production, Wachowski may be the perfect choice to direct EXPENDABELLES. Though she’s never directed ANYTHING alone without brother Andy. Is this even something she’d consider/be capable of doing alone?

4) Betty Thomas

No one ever mentions Betty Thomas when talking about potential directors for genre films and I am not sure why. Thomas mostly directs comedies, but her 2002 action/comedy I SPY teamed Owen Wilson with Eddie Murphy in a dynamic, if generic and predictable, black cop/white cop classic Hollywood action fest that was actually quite financially successful.

5) Catherine Hardwicke

Before she was TWILIGHT-ING and RED RIDING-it around Hollywood, Hardwicke impressed everyone with LORDS OF DOGTOWN, a gritty surfing-and-skateboarding action/thriller movie set in Santa Monica, California. She’s still one of the most sought-after directors around right now.

6) Michelle MacLaren

Michelle Maxwell McLaren first came on my radar with her horror/thriller feature POPULATION 436 in around 2006 or so. Since then, she’s directed some of the best episodes of BREAKING BAD, THE WALKING DEAD, and GAME OF THRONES.

In a recent article from Sept 13th, 2013 on ThinkProgress.org, writer Alyssa Rosenberg points out how weird it is that McLaren hasn’t been asked to direct a big-budget action feature for a studio:

That success has some writers, me among them, hoping that more mediums might have their shot at getting MacLaren-ified. As Alan Sepinwall wrote in his Breaking Bad recap on Sunday, “If Alan Taylor can use his work on ‘Sopranos,’ ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Game of Thrones to land a blockbuster movie job like the ‘Thor’ sequel, why can’t MacLaren (who’s also done impressive “Thrones” work) pull off the same jump? Tell me she’s directing a big-budget action movie, and my ticket is purchased within seconds. Hey, Hollywood: please watch the last 20 minutes of this episode — at the way she composes her shots, at the way she squeezes every possible bit of tension and emotion and despair out of the circumstances and her actors—and tell me she doesn’t have the chops.”

BuzzFeed’s Kate Aurthur asked MacLaren yesterday if she’d be interested, and her answer says a great deal about the rise of television in relation to film.

"Would I like to? If the right thing came along, absolutely,” she said. “I love television. Television is a great medium; I’m fortunate enough to direct amazing television. Would I like to do a feature? Absolutely. I will never leave television. Am I looking? Yes. I’m looking. Have I found anything? Not yet. I haven’t yet. I’d like to do both.”

That no movie studio has approached MacLaren for a project she’d be interested in, or expressed interest in her after she’s identified a project she’d like to work on, while more and more of television’s best shows are bringing her on board, is revealing. It’s not as if the television industry is vastly superior to movies when it comes to the employment of women behind the camera, but you’d think that someone with MacLaren’s resume would have found a high-profile movie project right now if she wants one. This isn’t even a case where Kathryn Bigelow could plausibly be treated as an exception to a rule, the one woman who can direct a compelling action sequence, much in the same way that Will Smith is treated like one of only a few black men who can open an action picture. If MacLaren can provide the visual grammar for television shows that draw millions of viewers, it would take some exceptional logic to argue that she suddenly wouldn’t be effective on a bigger screen.

 

6) Gwyneth Horder-Payton

SONS OF ANARCHY, THE WALKING DEAD, JUSTIFIED, THE SHIELD, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA are just a few of the action TV series on which Horder-Payton has worked as a director. Alyssa Rosenberg, again, interviewed Horder-Payton for Indiewire, and it’s clear she has a passion for action and fight-scene choreography:

"I studied fight after fight after fight, famous movie fights, famous television fights, across the board, I went to YouTube and I looked at street fights," she explained. "And what's so interesting is that in 95 percent of the fights on-screen, the men barely sweat, or feel pain, or even feel anger. It's so interesting. They're so macho that it's all about landing the blows, selling the hit to the camera. You don't see the progression. And they never show fatigue. It's rare…So I thought, you know, as a woman, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to bring sweat and progression of blood, and pain, and vulnerability."

7) Lesli Linka Glatter

Another prominent TV director, Linka Glatter’s recent work on THE WALKING DEAD (noticing a theme?), TRUE BLOOD, and HOMELAND make her a perfect candidate for a big-budget theatrical action movie. Seriously, if Tommy Wirkola can get one simply by making a low budget movie about zombies, surely directing big-budget high-profile TV series is a way to get on that list as well, right?

8) Lynne Ramsay

Ramsays’ recent walking out on the action western JANE GOT A GUN caused a slew of uproar in the entertainment media. People called her everything from unprofessional to petty to catty to brave when she left the production based on differences. But Ramsay was hired because her feature WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN blew many people away (horror fans hated it because, you know, not horror) with its eerie and emotional violence. The script so impressed star Tilda Swinton that she signed on as a producer long before the film went into production, and Ramsay’s collaboration with a high-profile movie star went swimmingly, to say the least.

9) Vicky Jewson

Jewson is a very young, indie director of whom you might not have heard, but she’s already directed two films, one of which is an action/thriller called BORN OF WAR (which is way better than Dead Snow or Troll Hunter, FYI, studio executives).

10) Tammi Sutton

Having begun in directing low budget horror films (you know, like everyone who once worked for Roger Corman) for Full Moon Productions, Sutton’s most recent movie is a British gangster/action flick called ISLE OF DOGS. The movie has a lot of thrilling twists and turns and some brutal, stylized violence that Guy Ritchie would enjoy.

11) Kelly Reichardt

The director of the solid western MEEK’S CUTOFF just finished her brand new thriller NIGHT MOVES, about environmentalists that blow up a dam in the name of saving the world (if this makes no sense to you, then you never read THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG and you are an uneducated heathen). The movie just screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and should be out in theaters in Spring of 2014. But what’s Reichardt’s next project going to be? If they want to snag her for EXPENDABELLES, now might be a good time.

12) Debra Granik

Granik’s WINTER’S BONE literally made Jennifer Lawrence a ginormous movie star. The grim and gritty modern thriller is about rural crime and violence in the Appalachian mountains of the Eastern United States. It won like 5,000 independent spirit awards. Granik, however, has not made a film since she released WINTER’S BONE, so what gives?

13) Karyn Kusama

Kusama directed the boxing movie GIRLFIGHT, which is what kind of launched her career. Then, she was hired on the AEON FLUX live-action feature, followed shortly thereafter by the Diablo Cody horror movie JENNIFER’S BODY. Now, I’m not putting her on this list because of JENNIFER’S BODY or AEON FLUX because, God Knows, I may as well just replace her with Kimberly Pierce if that’s my reasoning. No, the rationale is that Kusama is good at the action stuff, not the horror stuff, not the sci-fi stuff. The action stuff. Check out what make GIRLFIGHT so freaking good (and also made Michelle Rodriguez a giant action heroine):

14) Kathryn Bigelow

Yes yes, I know. She won’t do it. They’ve probably already begged her to do it. She won’t. Though, if you watch POINT BREAK, you know Bigelow would make a brilliant flick out of EXPENDABELLES. I wish I was Kathryn Bigelow.

15) Patty Jenkins

Jenkins was going to direct the sequel to THOR, but she backed out. Like many women on this list, she started by making a grisly, high-style indie flick (MONSTER with Charlize Theron) that won 9,0000 awards in 2003 when it came out. After backing out of the (probably shitty) THOR film, she’s done some TV (THE KILLING) but her slate looks pretty free at the moment. Time to swoop in?

16) Rachel Talalay

Talalay is best known for directing the 1990s GRRRRL power sci-fi action flick TANK GIRL. She dabbled in horror films, but found her home directing TV up in Canada (like all of them!). Talalay is something of a cult figure when it comes to genre film fans and horror movie aficionados, who often wish she’d direct something super action-y again.

17) Gurinder Chadha

The director of the shockingly popular action/drama/comedy/teen/coming-of-age/British/Indian/whatever film BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM really gets character development and storytelling. She also enjoys a bit of camp as evidenced by her Indian serial kill comedy IT’S A WONDERFUL AFTERLIFE. But this woman who knows how to direct the camera when women’s legs are kicking things is not even being mentioned for the directing role on EXPENDABELLES. Why?

18) Angela Robinson

The director of the all-female action/comedy D.E.B.S.’s first movie was CHICKULA: TEENAGE VAMPIRE, so I’m pretty sure she’s willing to overlook some of the inevitable camp and cheesiness in the script for EXPENDABELLES. She also directed HERBIE: FULLY LOADED and recently worked on the TV series version of CHARLIE’S ANGELS (who knew that was a thing?).

19) Jennifer Lynch

Lynch is working steadily now after a long hiatus after her first movie, BOXING HELENA. However, Lynch’s new films are startling superior to her first flick in tone, sophistication, and subject matter. SURVEILLANCE and CHAINED are just the first two in what appears to be a long line of new thrillers Lynch will be making from now on. Lynch also has quite a sense of humor. And she also has dreadlocks, did you know?

20) Deanne Foley

Deanne Foley, like Vicky Jewson, may not be on anyone’s radar yet. Foley directed the action/comedy BEAT DOWN about female wrestlers last year. Her next film is a Canadian comedy, but I’d hate to see the genre success of BEAT DOWN as an action movie be ignored for its comedic aspects instead, as comedy is something we have plenty of women doing right now.

You’ll notice some omissions from this list, so feel free to complain/suggest in the comments. I mean, I figured 20 was pretty good. I could probably come up with 100, so just be thankful I kept it short. I want to know what YOU think? Agree with my picks? Disagree? Have some more people to add?

Jennifer Lynch Mentors Isabel Peppard

Just got word that Aussie director and animator Isabel Peppard will be working closely with director Jennifer Lynch in Los Angeles through the Screen Australia’s Talent Escalator program. This mentorship is specifically designed for Peppard to be horror-related, so they'll be working on Peppard's new horror feature script.  Peppard's short animated dark fantasy BUTTERFLIES won the Dendy Yoram Gross Award for Best Short Animation at the Sydney Film Festival. Peppard says:

I'm very excited to announce that I have received support from Screen Australia to undertake an industry mentorship in Los Angeles with Jennifer Lynch (Chained, Surveillance). Together we will work on developing the first draft of my debut horror/stopmotion feature as well as developing my directorial skills with on set experience and workshops. I'm so thrilled to be able to work on my first horror feature as I have literally dedicated my whole life to horror be it in SPFX, performance, visual art, burlesque, music and stopmotion animation.

For someone like me, who is always bitching about how women don't get mentored by established horror directors, this is fucking awesome. I can't wait to see how that feature horror script comes along and what Peppard will do with it.

By the way, how amazing is Australia? That shit just doesn't happen in the USA.

 

Where Are All The Female ABC'S OF DEATH 2 Directors?

Meredith Borders, managing editor of BadassDigest, a genre news film site run by the people at Drafthouse Films, just posted a short article wondering where are all the female entrants to the second ABC'S OF DEATH contest.

You see, the first film was essentially a sausage fest except for two segments out of the 26: one directed by Angela Bettis (ROMAN) and the other co-directed by Helene Cattet (AMER). This year, the ratio is slightly better: three women directors, Jen and Sylvia Soska (co-directing one segment) and Kristina Buozyte with a potential fourth female director if one happens to win the current contest in which filmmakers are asked to submit a short film and viewers vote to pick the new director.  The comments on the article range from people lamenting how they can't name more than five women horror director to people suggesting that Karen Lam, Jovanka Vuckovic, and Maude Michaud are good possibilities to people saying that the reason women don't direct horror is because women characters are marginalized in horror and in our culture et cetera.

Borders states she is a feminist and I am really happy that someone with so much power at Drafthouse is willing to come out and say that she really wishes there were more women included in this thing. However, Borders doesn't ask the question that I think is really obvious: why were only three women asked to participate in THE ABC'S OF DEATH 2 from the get-go?

"Because there aren't any women horror directors to ask," you suggest? There are actually like dozens. I can name dozens. Right now. Danielle Harris, Karen Lam, Barbara Stepansky, Jovanka Vuckovic, Brea Grant, Axelle Carolyn, Marina de Van, Caroline Dupotet, Rie Rasmussen, Kristina Klebe, Devi Snively, Sofia Carrillo, Faye Jackson, Rania Ajami, Emily Hagins (she seems like a no-brainer for Drafthouse, which has been one of her biggest supporters in Austin, Texas), Amber Benson, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Maude Michaud, Izabel Grondin, Danishka Esterhazy, Elza Kephart, Gigi Romero, Asia Argento, Debbie Rochon, Mae Catt, Rebekah McKendry, Marichelle Daywalt, Anouk Whissell, Julia Ostertag, Tii Riks, Jen Moss, Jessi Gotta, Lindsay Denniberg, Juliet Landau, Isabelle Gaumont, Jenn Wexler, Mattie Do, Amy Hesketh, Jen Thym, Ursula Dabrowsky… and this is just off the top of my head. Any of these directors would be completely qualified to stand next to The Soskas and any of the male directors already currently hired for the ABC'S OF DEATH 2. Not to mention that there are women directors with long careers in horror and even cult followings that may be available for something like this including Amy Holden Jones, Jennifer Lynch, Mary Harron, Mary Lambert, Katt Shea, Jackie Kong, Barbara Peeters, Tammi Sutton, and Deryn Warren. And, I can think of some actresses and writers that have been interested in directing for a long time who would be not only great at cutting their teeth on an ABC'S OF DEATH 2 segment but would also bring a lot of fan love  to the entire project like Tiffany Shepis, Diablo Cody, Heather Langenkamp, Juliet Snowden, and Brinke Stevens.

I think, if maybe more women directors were represented as actual hires from the beginning, more women would be encouraged to actually enter the contest. I'm not surprised some women may not feel encouraged or excited about entering if they feel that there's already a barrier between them and the project. I'm curious why more women were not initially hired, especially when there are people at Drafthouse, like Borders, who are clearly aware of women directors and want more of them in the project. If the producers are interested in what women are doing, they're more than welcome to read my blog. And I'd be happy to make any suggestions or connections they might need for an ABC'S OF DEATH 3 that is more gender-balanced. The real tragedy here, of course, is that they haven't read my blog. I mean, that's the main, larger, much more important issue: me and my stuff and my ego. Me. Me. Me.

EDIT: director Marcy Boyle (NOBODY CAN COOL) reminded me of an article I wrote in 2011 about this same issue, to which producer Ant Timpson responded.  You can read the article here, and this was Ant's response to the original article:

Just wanted to say that I actually went all out not to make this a sausage fest and even though I didn't invite Marina (agggrhh one of my favourite films ever is IN MY SKIN) as I had a brainfart and totally forgot about her. Not sure she would have done it but I love her work.

I made an effort to try and get quite a few women involved. I wanted Katt Shea and even approached her via Facebook. You have to understand that this was a low-fi project at the start, Magnet weren't involved it was just myself and Tim trying to put it together. I don't want to mention other names. The issue was that some higher profile women directors simply did not respond or had agents protecting them from projects like this. So what happens is that we fall back onto who we know (and into that bloody boys club) which is directors we have personal contact with and who can make a call about participation immediately. This whole thing was being rushed for Cannes like you wouldn't believe.

I have no issue with the anger in your tone as I believe its totally warranted. It is a sausage fest in horror. I see all these gatherings of horror directors and its always dudes with one token woman in the photos. I don't think there's a conscious decision to exclude but there's also a huge fucking lack of getting them recognition.

Anyway, just wanted to say that there was consideration and I did try. We just had time and some other pressures working against us.

Keep up the good fight.

Ant

 

But my ego aside, here are the current entries in the ABC'S OF DEATH 2 search for the 26th director:

M IS FOR MAKE BELIEVE written and directed by Summer Johnson:

M IS FOR MEMORY co-directed by Melanie Coleman:

M IS FOR MONEY co-directed by Shelly Doss:

M IS FOR MASK directed by Arianne Goddard:

M IS FOR MISERYEATER directed by Alicia R Norman:

M IS FOR MATERNITY WARD directed by Val O. Morris (I know her! Hey Val!):

M IS FOR MOLESTER co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:

M IS FOR MUCUS also co-directed by Sebrina Bedard:

I happen to know that there are a few more women who are going to submit before the deadline, like Ama Lea and Emma Julia Jacobs, and the contest doesn't end submissions until October 31st, 2013 so who knows how many they may get between now and then. Voting goes on until November 30th, 2013 and the winner will be announced on December 15th. I really do hope it's a woman who wins (and because she deserves it, not as a hand-out because of her vagina) just because – honestly – out of 26 segments the producers only invited three women? That's a bit silly.

I'll keep you posted on this!

Jennifer Lynch on 'Psych' and Movies

Jennifer Lynch, director of genre flicks like "Chained" and "Hisss", is also directing TV these days. Aside from darker fare like season 2 of "The Killing" and SyFy's "Warehouse 13", she's also involved in the USA network TV series "Psych" (also, did I happen to mention, one of my favorite shows?)

Lynch was interviewed by someone named Claudia Bakker on a site called CUWired, and had the following to say:

I want to make films I haven't seen. I want to create dialogues about subjects we keep hushed about, and yet are flooding our news feeds. Child abuse, the human monster, our part in how that cycle of violence continues because we look away. I also want audiences to feel treated as intelligent. I try to do that with each story I tell. I'm also fascinated not by capture or torture, but by what humans do when they cannot just leave a situation. I love human beings and their adaptability. I love the way we fall. I love the way we fly. I work with characters who cannot just get up and go. They have to find another way to survive the moments. I love it.

News: Jennifer Lynch, 'Butterflies', 'The Silent Thief', Blair Richardson, 'Inner Demon' and Shannon Lark

The Rue Morgue Podcast interviewed Jennifer Lynch about her new horror film, Chained! Listen to the recording here.
Cadaverous Jake wrote a review of Isabel Peppard's short animated horror film "Butterflies" saying,
Everything including the visuals the monologues and the orchestral score come together and the film unfolds like some sort of Gothic fairytale with horror elements which manifest themselves in both the decaying butterflies of the film's title and also upon Claire's co-workers as she begins to understand what their loss of creativity has done to them and threatens to do to her. BUTTERFLIES is easily one of the more unique and satisfying films I have seen in quite some time.
 Jennifer Clary's feature thriller "The Silent Thief" was reviewed on We Are Movie Geeks, which said,
Director Jennifer Clary keeps things moving nicely along, stopping only to ratchet up the creepiness factor.  As Brennan starts feeding off the emotional vulnerabilities of the family—mom’s natural protectiveness, Elise’s attraction, Mike’s secrets—his actions become more and more odd and threatening.  Scenes of Brennan mimicking a video of Mike are downright disturbing.  A running gag involving the placement of toy cars in Mike’s bedroom starts off as amusing, then becomes a symbol of how unhinged Brennan actually is.
Blair Richardson was interviewed on Jacksonville.com about her new horror film "Kitty Kitty":
“I haven’t been to college to study film,” she said. “This is a chance at telling a story with lighting and working with actors.”
Kelly Stewart, director of the upcoming  Blood in the Snow Toronto Horror Film Festival, was interviewed by The Jay Stoyan Show. Listen to Kelly talk about the amazing lineup, which includes some Viscera Film Festival horror films directed by women!
You can also listen to director Ursula Dabrowsky talking about crowd funding her new feature horror film "Inner Demon" and other things on Aussie podcast Sci-Fi & Squeam.
And Shannon Lark, my co-director of the Viscera Organization, which puts on the Viscera Film Festival, and director and filmmaker in her own right, was interviewed by Diabolique Magazine writer Michele Galgana (also Viscera's new marketing director) about the festival, horror films, and everything else!  She says,
Before, it’d be, “You’re not a man, so you’re probably not going to be able to handle it. You don’t look like a director.” All of these different excuses. Women didn’t really get access to film, because film was so expensive. But with digital equipment, everything is changing. I think that’s one of the reasons why Viscera is so successful.

Sitges 2012: Dozens of Female Genre Film Directors

There so many women with shorts and features playing at this year's 2012 Sitges Film Festival, October 4-14th  in Spain, that it's unbelievable and terribly exciting. I hope this list helps you sort it all out…

HORROR/THRILLERS

Some familiar horror faces are screening at Sitges 2012, including Jen and Sylvia Soskas "American Mary," "The ABC's of Death" featuring shorts by Angela Bettis and Helene Cattet, Danielle Harris' "Among Friends," and Jennifer Lynch's "Chained." There's a bevvy of new directors screening new horror as well:

Katia Olivier's "Belgian Psycho" is the one I'm most sad about missing. Her previous film, "Virtual Dating," was dark and disturbing and awesome.

Today is Emily’s birthday. And how does a serial killer celebrate her birthday? By killing… a little bit more than usual.

Anna Nemyrovych co-directed the thriller "Dancing Dogs,"

Two sisters, Lily and River, meet again as a result of the death of their third sister. Her last wish was that her ashes be scattered on a beach where they spent the best moments of their childhood. Searching for this particular locus amoenis, they are kidnapped by a demented ballet teacher who forces them to prepare a show, pushing them to the limit of their physical and emotional resistance.

Sara Ibáñez's "Estigma" is a short about suicide,

A girl commits murder in a bathtub. Her eyes, reflected in the mirror, show the posttraumatic shock she suffers after the act. What she doesn’t expect is that the crime might last longer than she had planned…

Watch the full film here:

 Elisabet de Loreto co-directed "Matar Por Cien Palabras,"

Maximilian, a first time screenwriter, is having trouble finding the perfect ending for his work. He can’t imagine a scene where the main character commits a terrible murder. It is then when he decides to mentally step into the killer’s shoes. How far will he go to write his 100 words?

Juliana Rojas' "O Duplo" delves into the doppleganger mythos,

Silvia is a young elementary school teacher. One day, her class is interrupted when one of the students says he’s seen the teacher’s double walking on the other side of the street. She tries to play down the importance of the anecdote, but as of this moment her life will become stranger and stranger.

ANIMATION

Elena Albán, Cintia Fernández and Lorena López co-directed "Old Jazz" about a nightclub singer,

Karla Castañeda's animated short "La Noria" is magical and macabre,

In a small village, time stands still for a family man who has lost his son.

You can listed to her talk about the making of the short here:

 Paulin Cointot, Dorianne Fibleuil, Antoine Robert and Maud Sertour all co-directed a darkly comedic animated short, "La Taxidermiste,"

Justine Klaiber and Jane Mumford co-directed the dark animated short "Look,"

In a world plunged into almost absolute darkness, some strange creatures worship a light that feeds them. Escaping from certain ties, however, isn’t an easy task when everyone can see.

Isabel Peppard's animated "Butterflies,"

 A young, artistically talented woman receives a job offer from a stranger. The prospect seems attractive, but the reality is that it actually might not be. A short destined to become an instant stop motion classic.

"Behind the Door," Norwegian animation co-directed by Helga Fjeldså and Stein-Christian Fagerbakken,

A dark and strange world. A couple trapped in a net of extreme feelings lives out an unhealthy relationship. Doorways that open up to universes that appear to respond to the narrative logic of nightmares. One of Anima’t 2012’s main attractions

Regina Pessoa's "Kali, o pequeno vampiro," about a vampire, of course,

Michaela Pavlátová's "Tram" is also playing at Fantastic Fest,

Kyra Buschor and Cynthia Collins made the German animated short, "Zing,"

The Reaper’s work day envolves efficiently until an untimely knock on the door disturbs his concentration. It’s a girl, who wants to get her kitty back and isn’t willing to leave empty-handed.

FANTASY/SCI-FI

Making its world premiere is Mary Lambert's ("Pet Sematary") new fantasy short "Pearl" based on the fairy tale "The Little Mermaid." It's darker and set in modern times, but is being developed for a feature length version. I've seen it, and it's haunting and gorgeous.

Pearl is the story of a mermaid princess who falls in love with a California surfer. She has a delicious voice, but her father warns her that if she stays on terra firma too long, she will lose it and won’t be able to go back underwater ever again.

Noémie Lvovsky's "Camille Redouble" is a time-travel romantic comedy,

When she is sixteen, Camille meets Éric. They fall in love and have a daughter, but time passes and after twenty-five years together, he leaves her for a younger woman. The night of New Year’s Eve, something tremendously unusual happens to Camille: she is sixteen again, she is back with her parents and childhood friends again, and she runs into Éric again. And then she is faced with a dilemma: will she follow her same steps or will she change her own story? One of the best known (and most adored) faces in French cinema embarks on directing and starring in a movie about time travel, as zany as it is funny.

Kristina Buozyté's "Aurora" – a Lithuanian film,

Lukas is a scientist investigating the human neuronal area, with a project to transmit and share information from one brain to another. Given his experience and psychological profile, Lukas is considered the ideal candidate to undergo the definitive experiment: to connect his mind to that of a comatose woman. In this mental space, the scientist will begin a passionate relationship with her, alienating him more and more from the real world. But when Lukas starts to inject drugs into the woman’s body, for her to be able to recover physical sensations, his imaginary paradise will start to crumble.

Jazmín Rada's short fantasy "La Hija,"

Fatima wants to play, but her father is too busy. She has a lot of imagination and some special balloons…

DOCUMENTARY

Donna Davies' "Nightmare Factory" doc about FX master Gregory Nicotero is still going strong at festivals, alongside Penny Vozniak's documentary about Jennifer Lynch and the film "Hisss," "Despite the Gods," both screening at Sitges this year. There's some new talent emerging as well:

Valerie Veatch co-directed a short doc about Britney-Spears-Fan Chris Crocker, and the impact he had on the virtual world, called "Me @ The Zoo,"

Women Directors at Fantasia 2012: Vuckovic, Carolyn, Whissell, Michaud, Lynch, Vozniak, and more

Jennifer Lynch's "Chained" is having its world premiere at Fantasia this year – here's mud in your eye!

It's playing alongside Penny Vozniak's documentary "Despite the Gods" (read our interview) about Lynch's experiences making the horror film "Hisss" in India:

Maude Michaud's "Cure Dents" is a new film about a woman's kinky dental fantasy – reminds me of Izabel Grondin's also Montrealean "Fantasy" which had a similar theme.

Emily McMehen's Haitian Voodoo Documentary, "Achante," is playing.

Jovanka Vuckovic's much-discussed fantastical horror "The Captured Bird" (review)

Gabi Kislat's short "Cry Baby" is about an infant's nightmare:

Celine France has two short films in the festival – "Leo" and "Elegie," for which I have practically no info at all, but this is the one I'm REALLY looking forward to: Anouk Whissell's "Turbo Kid" a post-apocalyptic French-Canadian experience I do not want to miss. Check out this short, which is the basis for the feature:

Alexandra Beuchamp's "Etre Humain" is the only straight-out horror short in the fest directed by a woman. It's a zombie flick, and I'm looking forward to see what she does with the sub-genre.

Emilie Rosas' fantastical short "La Fin de la Nuit" is – well, just watch:

Axelle Carolyn's "The Halloween Kid" is screening,

and so is Marie Voignier's documentary "L’HYPOTHÈSE DU MOKÉLÉ-MBEMBÉ" – about a prehistoric dinosaur-ic creature living in Africa!

Allison de Fren's  documentary on robotic women as sexual objects, "The Mechanical Bride," is one we've been looking forward to for a while!

 

"Noir" is co-directed by Emma Berthou – and seems to be a take on the classic noir film style, while "Nostradamus," co-directed by, seems to be a documentary about people who believe it's the end of the world.

While I don't generally like too many experimental shorts, nor to write about them, I think Annie Leduc's "Panic" sounds pretty awesome.

"La Trappe" by Sophie B. Jacques looks like a home-invasion terror short, however, and I wish there were a trailer!

"Despite the Gods": Penny Vozniak's Doc About Jennifer Lynch's 'Hisss'

Remember Jennifer Lynch's "Hisss"? The horror film about a woman that can turn into s nake, from Hindi folklore? No? It was awful. Director Jennifer Lynch, herself, disowned the film after she lost control, and the movie itself didn't reach US audiences until just recently and without any PR of any kind, and only on streaming download.

Penny Vozniak's new documentary "Despite The Gods" is all about Lynch's struggle with making, and releasing, and then disowning "Hisss". It's going to premiere as part of the HotDocs film festival this April/May 2012.

Jennifer Lynch, daughter of cult film auteur David Lynch, made her auspicious directorial debut in 1993 with Boxing Helena at the Sundance Film Festival. A box office disaster, the film was viciously mauled by critics and became the focus of multiple lawsuits. Fifteen years later, a recovering addict and hard-working single mother, Lynch returns to the director’s chair with an ambitious project that will test her skills and the entire crew’s sanity. Despite the Gods brings us behind the scenes on the set of Lynch’s Bollywood/Hollywood action film about a man-eating snake goddess. Out of her depth shooting on location with an Indian crew and two top Bollywood stars, Lynch turns her production into a vehicle for her own self-actualization, paying no regard to timeline, budget or reality. As the story in front of the camera derails, the story behind the camera explodes.

Lynch comes off as brutally honest and likable; you reminds me of her father in all his brutal likable non-Hollywood bullshit honesty. You can clearly see Lynch's struggle to make her film the way she wants to despite a machine of industry in India and it's many obstacles. You can also see her frustrations about her life in general. There's something keenly refreshing about seeing someone be so open to the camera. And that's just what I got from the trailer:

 

"Hisss" Review – Did you even know it was out?

Jennifer Lynch's "Hisss," a horror film about a woman who can tranform into a snake (based on an Indian myth) seems to have been stuck in limbo for a while instead of being released to mainstream horror audiences, but No! It's on Netflix: Watch it Now! Who knew? Here I've been waiting for the thing on DVd for years, ever since Lynch appeared at the 2009 Creation Weekend of Horrors Los Angeles Convention for a panel on it. It appears to have been released, apparently. Silently. My friend Thomas Duke had the good(bad) fortune of watching and reviewing it for me over at Planet Fury, and he says,

While certainly watchable, "Hisss" makes me pine for the days of "Boxing Helena," which was at least interesting as a unique one-off; a piece of ludicrous outsider art committed as an inside job (after all, it would’ve never been greenlit without the family name).  Wait a second…am I waxing nostalgic for "Boxing Helena"?  God help me.

I kind of love Thomas. Read the review.

Jennifer Lynch's 'Chained' – Hope This One Works

Fourth time's a charm, hopefully for Jennifer Lynch, director of the thrillers "Boxing Helena," "Surveillance," and the horror film NO ONE has seen (hey, it's on Netflix Watch It Now, apparently) "Hisss." The fourth film for the director is "Chained," and it sounds like a horror flick to me with plenty of opportunity for gore.

The synopsis? "The story of a serial killer (Vincent D'Onofrio) who kidnaps a 9-year-old boy. Now a teenager, the boy learns the only way to survive is by following in the killer's footsteps. He must make his move to escape before he becomes like the monster that now considers himself his father." Julia Ormond and Eamond Farren co-star, and it has secured distribution with Anchor Bay for the USA in Spring, 2012.