Film

Final Girls Berlin celebrates women in horror

Two of the curators spill their guts in advance of the burgeoning film festival, taking place June 9-11 at Kino Moviemento

Still from 'Das Buffet ist Eröffnet' (dir. Daviel Shy)

Jun. 6, 2017 – Berlin has no shortage of film festivals, but has there been one dedicated to feminist horror? Well, there is now: Final Girls Berlin is taking place this weekend at the intimate Kino Moviemento. The festival – which takes its name from the trope of the last woman standing in a slasher film – gathers feature-lengths, short film programs, talks and more, with plenty of queer content along the way. Two of the curators, Elinor Lewy and Sara Neidorf, spill their guts with SIEGESSÄULE

What we can we expect from the fest?
Lewy:
Expect an immersive horror experience with a feminist bent. We’ll be showing three feature films, daily at 20:00, eight creeptastic shorts programs, a workshop which delves into monstrous depictions of the "other" in horror, a talk on "hagsploitation" horror cinema, an art exhibition in the Moviemento lounge, and more surprises and goodies. You’ll have to come to find out!
Neidorf: For those with a particular appetite for queer horror, our opening night feature is Ingrid Jungermann’s Women Who Kill, a dark comedy/thriller with a nearly all queer/lesbian cast. It's about two ex-girlfriends who run a true crime podcast about female serial killers, as they begin to suspect that one of their love interests might have closer ties to their research than expected. It’s really damn funny and weird. There are also a number of queer shorts sprinkled throughout, such as Thirza Cuthand’s “You Are a Lesbian Vampire” and Daviel Shy’s “Das Buffet ist eröffnet," to be seen in our Body Horror program.

There's no shortage of horror films being produced, but obviously not all of them will fit into a feminist framework. How easy/difficult is it for you to find the right clips when curating?
Lewy: The festival is aimed at showcasing women directors, producers and writers, so it’s easier than you might think! We received many fantastic submissions on both editions – if anything, it was a challenge to whittle them down.
Neidorf: With the majority of our submissions having female – as well as non-binary – writer/directors, we don't have to look as hard for films that fit into a feminist framework as we would if we had a gender-non-specific open call for horror films, which, as you suggest, would be very heavily dominated by cis men. We do aim for our selections to be heavily feminist, but placing a gendered filter on our submissions also enables us to focus on other aspects of these works that make them potent additions to the horror genre. We’re excited to lend visibility to the underappreciated, largely unacknowledged work of women in horror, which we feel is already a feminist gesture, even when the work doesn’t address gender or feminism in a direct or immediate way. 

The first festival took place in February, and just four months later, you're back with the second edition. Do you have long-term goals with the festival?
Neidorf:
Yes, we aim to keep the festival going as an annual event, hopefully with each edition expanding to include new interactive elements.
Lewy: Our festival is so new and we’re very excited we got this rolling – it’s sort of a dream come true for us horror lovers! A long-term goal of mine would be to establish different ways of supporting filmmakers. 

Do you think mainstream horror is becoming more feminist too, or is it mostly independent productions like the ones your festival is screening?
Lewy:
Mainstream, male-dominated horror still has a long way to go. Dee Rees, who wrote and directed Pariah, did just make a deal with Blumhouse, one of the biggest horror production companies, so things are slowly headed in the right direction. Diversity is an absolute necessity in changing the horror landscape. I hope Jordan Peele’s Get Out really does turn out to be the game-changer many say it is.
Neidorf: Women are gradually but steadily finding more exposure in the mainstream horror circuit – like Jennifer Kent, Karyn Kusama and Julia Ducournau. But it's a slow and very new development with a long way to go. There is a wealth of bad-ass women and non-binary horror-makers hiding in the indie/no-budget woodwork, though, and we’re really excited to get to know their work and give their voices a platform. We hope you'll come celebrate their work with us!

Final Girls Berlin Film Festival
Jun. 9-11 at Kino Moviemento