Saturday, February 5, 2011
BleedFest is a labor of love for the filmmaking sister Brenda and Elisabeth Fies. It's a monthly femme-centric film festival that celebrates women who love writing, producing, directing, and watching badass genre movies. In other words, chick flicks of a VERY different kind – horror, erotica, action, sci-fi, even exploitation (so long as it's not women being exploited). You wouldn't find a "Bridget Jones' Diary" here but you could find a "Dead Hooker in a Trunk."
"Last year, 'Dead Hooker in a Trunk' made its L.A. premiere at the BleedFest Film Festival," says filmmaker Sylvia Soska, "I got an email from this incredible woman, Elisabeth Fies, who invited us to the fest and even offered her place for us fellow indie filmmakers to crash. What these women do is incredible, they treat you like family once you enter their lives, and the festival is fantastic. As a Canadian filmmaker, it is very important to have your film screen somewhere rad in L.A."
"Dead Hooker in a Trunk" kicked female clichés in the ass to deliver a wild thrill ride. On February 6, the feature film being showcased will be Kate Glover's "Slaughtered," an Australian slashed film that's having its premiere and looks promising. There will also be a short film called "Mirror Mirror" from San Diego artist Sophia Segal.
"Mirror Mirror," Segal says, "is a nightmarish account of someone who is not yet awakened to the roots of their own mental suffering or to the possibility trickster spirits may exist as guides to further awaken us. With my love for silent films, surrealist filmmakers, German Expressionist cinema, vintage horror films, classic monsters, vaudeville and the Edwardian Period, I set out to make my visual version of what the darker aspects of the mind can manifest as in classic vaudevillian fashion."
Segal praises BleedFest for "giving female filmmakers a forum in LA to converge, meet one another and share our passions for filmmaking. The Festival is giving a forum to a voice that has been not very well supported or established in the film community for women. I look forward to seeing more breakout female horror genre filmmakers."
"We want women’s hard work to be talked about and seen," says Brenda Fies, " So there is indisputable proof that talented ladies are creating exciting multi-genre films, and can no longer be ignored. The ultimate goal involves Hollywood becoming an equal opportunity employer."
Opening Hollywood's eyes to the diverse potential of women both in front of and behind the camera is no easy task. That's one reason why Hannah Neurotica of "Ax Wound 'Zine" came up with the idea of Women in Horror Recognition Month. Hannah Neurotica is a horror writer, podcaster and horror aficionado who was inspired to create her month-long tribute after sitting on a less than satisfying CBC Radio panel on the horror genre. In her online manifesto she rails against the inequalities women face in society and in the arts, and specifically in her beloved genre of horror.
"Why can’t we be recognized as 'Scream Queens' who scream out with our artistic and creative abilities; qualities other then how we look. I mean, sh-t, a lot of women love horror in very personal and passionate ways and are not wanting to be 'Horror Babe of the Month.' We are writers, directors, producers, artists, eerie musicians, creepy doll makers, FX artists. We are audience!"
That's precisely what the Fies sisters want to do with BleedFest every month and especially this month with its emphasis on a program of horror. The most interesting title on the program is "Night of the Hell Hamsters," produced by Elisabeth Pinto.
In addition to Segal's "Mirror Mirror," the shorts in competition will include: "Suckathumb" by Xstine Cook; "The Patchwork Monkey" by Susan Bell; "Essenger" and "Aftershock" by Lori Bowen; "Meow" by Sarah Brown and Cyriak Harriss; "A Noiva (A.K.A.: The Bride)" by Ana Almeida; "Threnody" by Tyrrell Shaffner; and "Anniversary" by Marichelle Daywalt. Many of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their films with the audience.
Elisabeth Fies feels very strongly about the festival's agenda and overt activism.
"It’s a civil rights movement for women to be depicted equally in the media and have the same distribution, funding, pay and employment opportunities as men to make that media," says Elisabeth, "It’s a call to arms for female artists to be on the same team helping each other, to embrace sisterhood and erase scarcity notions, and to find the hero men who want to be part of the revolution!"
Twisted Twins Productions
Jen Soska, the other half of the filmmaking twins that delivered "Dead Hooker in a Trunk," is thrilled to see this Women in Horror Month take off because "it doesn't exist merely to encourage and inspire women, but also largely to recognize the women who have made tremendous contributions to film, the arts, and, of course, horror."
She adds, "This month is filled with film festivals that focus on female talent, special events, articles, events, and charities. We encourage people world wide, all month long to donate blood. Our Women in Horror Massive Blood Drive is our way of paying tribute to women in horror and giving back at the same time. Our Penny Dreadful Diary (our blog found on our Twisted Twins site) will feature a new inspirational woman every day in February."
All this thrills Hannah Neurotica who launched Women in Horror Recognition Month exactly a year ago. She told me on Facebook, "I hope it never ends!!! That depends on everyone continuing it though. I am only one person. I truly hope women and men continue to keep this alive for the benefit of women in the industry as well as for girls and women to feel inspired to make films themselves."
The Fies sisters have taken this challenge to heart. On Sunday you can donate blood and then see women spill blood on the screen all in celebration of women who work hard both in front of and behind the camera to create horror.
I hope you can join me for this bloody good event.