During this time at the height of the #MeToo movement, when women are making their voices heard yet even large companies like Variety are overlooking our contributions to the industry, gems like Etheria Film Night are really finding their stride.
This showcase of genre short films (horror, scifi, fantasy, and more) all directed by women was an inspiring event held in the heart of Hollywood on Saturday, June 16th.
When asked how Etheria Film Night got started and what the importance is of having a festival like this, Director of Programming Heidi Honeycutt shared, “Etheria Film Night began as a place to showcase the awesome genre films that emerging women filmmakers were creating. It’s a tricky, double-edged sword programming a festival that is only for women directors: on the one hand, programming only women makes it seems like women are a sub-genre of director, a “type” rather than just human beings who, like men, direct films. However, when a festival shows male and female directors’ films, the lineup is always, always skewed in favor of males. This is not a conscious bias of any kind against women directors. Rather, it is indicative that fewer women are making films as director, fewer women are submitting their films as director to film festivals, and fewer women directors’ films are being selected. Until that’s no longer the case, I believe there is definitely a place for a women-only genre fest. Otherwise, no one would submit to our festival and no one would attend because they could see all of these women’s films at other genre festivals. But they can’t.”
The evening began in the courtyard outside of the famous Grauman’s Egyptian Theater with a red carpet, food, and drinks. Tourists often stopped along their journey of looking at the Hollywood Stars on the sidewalk to peek in on the festivities, no doubt thrilled to be experiencing a truly L.A. event.The festival itself opened with comedy legend Lori Petty (Tank Girl, Orange is the New Black) giving a quirky and impassioned speech introducing this year’s Inspiration Award Recipient, director Rachel Talalay.
“Because there’s a Rachel, there’s a light that she shines out there for each of you. And it’s your turn.” – Lori Petty
The directing icon (Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and so many more) then took the stage and gave a truly inspiring speech about the power of women’s voices and their use of genre films.
“…I love genre and what women do with it, because it’s absolute subversiveness. It’s subverting the narrative and radicalizing it, it’s ripping the guts out of the clichés, it’s telling the stories we’re told not to tell, and doing it in the most perverse ways by the most creative means. In short, it’s amazing.
And dammit, women rock at it. Because we have a lot of establishment to fight. There’s a lot that needs changing. We, women of genre, understand that our filmmaking is one way to do that. We can get in there and tackle the old boys clubs, and the tropes, and the fridging, and the clichés. We can take control of our own stories.”
The films themselves were eclectic and delightful, ranging from jump-out-of-your-seat horror, to heartbreaking sci-fi character dramas, to gory comedy-horrors. A few standouts were:
The opening film, Laboratory Conditions from director Jocelyn Stamat and Pirates of the Caribbean writer Terry Rossio, a drama horror that explores themes of spirituality and morality and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Bride of Frankie from director Devi Snively, a fun and humorous feminist nod to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This black and white film had the audience roaring with laughter with its endearing character oddities.
The Drop In, from director Naledi Jackson began as a quiet and unassuming character study, but quickly switched gears into a kick-ass action/thriller. I don’t want to say much more than that for fear of spoiling it 🙂
To close out with more inspiring words from director Rachel Talalay, “I’m constantly exasperated that my gender is even a topic of discussion. We’re at a cusp now. And I want you, all of you, to use genre as a voice. Get under their skins. Make your statements, tell your stories, break down their walls. And kick down that glass ceiling…Our stories are part of our revolutions. (They need to) shut up, and listen.”
I can’t wait to see what you create 🙂