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Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival

One-day showcase of independent and experimental films by and about women

Photo credit: Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival

"Brainless Killers" by Ren Thackham will screen as part of the Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival on Sept. 2 at Digital Gym Cinema.

Women filmmakers face plenty of obstacles trying to break into the mainstream industry. But if you are a female experimental filmmaker you face even more. Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival, showing Saturday at Digital Gym Cinema, tries to carve out a space for those filmmakers.

Women filmmakers face plenty of obstacles trying to break into the mainstream industry. But if you are a female experimental filmmaker you face even more. Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival, showing Saturday at Digital Gym Cinema, tries to carve out a space for those filmmakers.

Edda Manriquez is an artist and filmmaker who wanted to create a festival that would not just showcase women filmmakers but also give them the tools to make their films. The result is Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival.

“It’s nice to create a space that specifically highlights women and not just that, but we want to provide grants and financial assistance for women to create and fund their projects,” Manriquez said.

Plus she wanted to make sure that underrepresented groups had a chance to screen their films. So the festival is a safe haven not just for women filmmakers but also for filmmakers who want to push the envelope in terms of style and form.

“I really wanted to create was something that was basically all of the marginalized communities that really don’t get a voice,” Manriquez said. “We showcase documentaries, narrative, experimental, horror and women’s sexuality. It’s not just about the independent female filmmaker, it’s also about the experimental female filmmaker.”

The festival is very young. It premiered last year in Los Angeles with the assistance of Etheria Film Night and American Cinematheque. This year it moved to San Diego where Manriquez is originally from and next year she plans on having it in Arizona.

Photo credit: Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival

"Glenda," which serves up a second generation of "Twin Peaks'" characters, will screen on Sept. 2 as part of Les Femmes Underground International Film Festival.

The festival runs blocks of shorts focusing on documentaries, narrative and experimental films as well as horror and sexuality for more mature audiences. And while many films tackle women’s issues head on, others are just delicious fun. Like “Glenda,” which looks to a second-generation “Twin Peaks’” characters or “Short Cut,” a hilarious horror comedy about a bad boyfriend.

The festival’s not restricted to just female filmmakers, but the goal is to get films that have women driving the stories even if they are not all positive role models.

“Women should be shown in all lights as long as there is a justification and there is depth and character development,” Manriquez explained. “If we are able to create that one day in which it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a positive, negative or neutral role model, I think it is important to have all of them.”

After each showcase, there will be a 15- to 20-minute Q&A session in which the filmmakers and the audience can interact and ask each other questions.

Manriquez wants to keep the festival affordable so it is just $12 for an entire day of programming at the Digital Gym Cinema. That includes food and a goody bag.

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