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

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!

THE GUEST In Canadian Theaters Sept 19th

There's so much news right now that I literally don't have the (wo)man power to write it all. Slowly I'll make sure it all ends up on this blog, but for now I'm sticking to telling you that Jovanka Vuckovic's short horror film THE GUEST screening in theaters across Canada with the feature-length horror film NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR, from the mind of musician Slash. That Slash. And starring my good friend Rebekah Brandes. THE GUEST will be the opening film in 25 Cineplex Odeon theatres across Canada.

THE GUEST is only 4 minutes long and I have yet to see it, but based on Vuckovic's previous short films THE CAPTURED BIRD and SELF PORTRAIT, I'd guess it is extremely visual, symbolic, and has a touch of surrealism and expressionism and a hint of the grotesque. The official synopsis is only,

A man suffers delusions after making a horrific bargain.

THE GUEST will also shortly be premiering in the United States at the 2013 Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, with a slew of other amazing horror, fantasy, and science fiction films directed by women, and that deserves it's own separate post, and will get one.

 

Jovank Vuckovic The Guest

'The Captured Bird' and 'American Mary' Hit Theaters Together

Jovanka Vuckovic's "The Captured Bird" and Jen and Sylvia Soska's "American Mary" will be playing as a horror duo in Canadian Theaters through Sinister Cinema, which has paired the two films together at screenings at over 25 different Canadian cineplexes in all three Canadian cities that exist.

The two films, while wildly different, will compliment each other marvelously in tone and colorful art direction:

 

capturedbird

American Mary still image

Also, Canadians.

Jovanka Vuckovic's 'The Guest'

Shot in two days in Toronto for the Toronto International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition, doctor "The Guest" is a new horror short film from Jovanka Vuckovic ("The Captured Bird"). She describes the short shoot and the crew and her inspiration behind it on her blog:

If I had to describe it, I’d call it “existential horror.” It is inspired by the work of the great Shirley Jackson, Henry James and even has a touch of Kafka.

From these still images, I can tell that the film has a rich sense of color, design, lighting, and art direction (which her short "The Captured Bird" also had in spades).

The film will be completed in early May 2013, and hopefully will be screening at a TIFF event shortly thereafter.

Stranger With My Face Short Film Lineup

The Stranger With My Face Film Festival in Hobart, Tasmania is screening a bevvy of awesome new short genre films directed by women March 7-10, 2013, some of which I have had the pleasure to see and some which I have not.

From Australia, there's Isabel Peppard's fantastic animated story "Butterflies", about an artist who must decide between making a living and fulfilling her dreams,

Also Aussie is Rebecca Thomson's "The Jelly Wrestler", a stylized flick about an 80s gelatin wrestler who makes a comeback,

jellywrestler

Megan Riakos's "The Shed", a horror flick based on a short story by Chris Womersley,

Lynn Vincent McCarthy's "Strange Face", a disturbing thriller with some really violent imagery, (no trailer, but here's the original pitch video)

and "Tritch" by Natalie James, an Aussie/Hong Kong short about a wealthy woman haunted by a ghost from her past.

Unfortunately, Heidi Lee Douglas's short horror "Little Lamb" will not be playing, but the trailer will!

The lineup also includes two Canadian entries from Jovanka Vuckovic, "Self-Portrait" and "The Captured Bird",

capturedbird

and one from Karen Lam, "The Stolen".

The US entry, "Nightville", is directed by Kate Kaminski and Betsy Carson,

 

There are a few more, but they're not genre or are directed by men. There's also a great feature film lineup which we'll be writing about shortly!

Horrible Imaginings in San Diego, CA Screens Numerous Horror Flicks Directed by Women

San Diego's Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, curated by Miguel Rodriguez (the Viscera Organization's Director of Sponsorship) is happening November 10th and 11th in San Diego, California, USA (of course). Over the course of these two days, Rodriguez will screen numerous horror films directed by women, such as Jovanka Vuckovic's "The Captured Bird",

Lori Bowen's Argento/Fulci tribute "Stella Buio" (Bowen is, incidentally, the Director of Operations for the Viscera Organization. Incestuous small world, isn' it?

 Julie O'Connor Ufema's short "Killing Candi,"

Like it or not, Candies parole officer says the reality star has a PSA to shoot. And although she’ll do just about anything for fame, the little people she continues to step on are even more willing to do anything to take it all away. What could be sweeter than killing Candi?

Briony Kidd's "The Room at the Top of the Stairs" (a 2011 Viscera Film Festival selection),

Hadas Brandes' animated horror story "Escape from Hellview" (also a Viscera 2011 selection) (watch the whole thing below),

Rebekah McKendry's darkly comedic horror tale "The Dump" (incidentally, 2012 Viscera winner of Best Direction),

Fabiana Servilha's Brazilian horror film "Vontade" (watch the making-of video below),

Karen Lam's ever-popular short horror fairy tale "The Stolen" (an official Etheria Film Festival 2012 selection),

Maude Michaud's Montrealean vouyerism tale "Red" (a Viscera 2012 Tour Selection),

And last, Lindsay Denniberg's feature film "Video Diary of a Lost Girl" an amazing, colorful, crazy and joyfully original movie:

 

 

Dark Carnival 3: 'The Captured Bird' and 'The Many Doors of Albert Whale'

At the Los Angeles one-night-horror film festival Dark Carnival on Octover 24th, 2012, Marichelle Daywalt's short "The Many Doors of Albert Whale" (Viscera Selection 2011) and Jovanka Vuckovic's "The Captured Bird" are screening!

 

Watch "The Many Doors of Albert Whale" right here:

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,"

Telluride Horror Show: 'The Captured Bird', 'The Halloween Kid', 'My Brother's Keeper'

The 2012 Telluride Horror Show in Telluride, Colorado on October 12, 13, & 14, 2012, is screening three festival fave short horror films this year:

Jovanka Vuckovic's "The Captured Bird,"

Axelle Carolyn's "The Halloween Kid."

 

And Jen Moss's "My Brother's Keeper (Or How Not To Survive The Apocalypse)"

Fantastic Fest's Female Directors: Bettis, Cattet, Vuckovic, Pavlatova, Phang, and Arthur

In addition to screening the horror anthology feature "The ABC's of Death," which includes a short co-directed by Helene Cattet and one directed by Angela Bettis, and a retro screening of Karen Arthur's 1978 horror film "The Mafu CageFantastic Fest in Austin, Texas is showing shorts directed by Jovanka Vuckovic, Michaela Pavlatova, and Jennifer Phang.

First off, enjoy this clip of Carol Kane in "The Mafu Cage":

"The Captured Bird" (review) is Jovanka Vuckovic's fantasy thriller short about a little girl who discovers a mysterious castle filled with strange creatures.

Jennifer Phang's "Advantageous" is a sci-fi short made for the Futurestates Project, "Gwen is the spokesperson for a radical technology allowing people to overcome their natural disadvantages. But when her job and family are in crisis, will she undergo the procedure herself?" You can watch the trailer right here:

"Tram" is a new short I am very excited to hear about. Directed by  Michaela Pavlatova in the Czech Republic, it is an animated film about "the humdrum daily routine of a Tram conductress takes an interesting turn when she allows her imagination to wander."