‘Connection and Reflection through Dark Storytelling: Filmmakers, Community and Women in Horror Film Festivals’, in Bloody Women! Women Directors of Horror, ed. Aislinn Clarke and Victoria McCollum (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022).
The subject of women horror filmmakers has become increasingly visible over the past few years, fuelled in part by the international success of directors like Ana Lily Amirpour, Julia Ducournau, Coralie Fargeat, Jennifer Kent, Issa López and Lynne Ramsay. But this is not a new trend: women have been making horror throughout cinema history, the cultural gatekeepers just have trouble finding (and funding) them. The creation – and success – of film festivals dedicated to women in horror reflects a push for representation, showcasing the diverse work being made and encouraging its continued momentum. They offer practical opportunities, such as education and networking. Encouraging collaboration and support, these women in horror festivals have facilitated the growth of a global community. One of the first was Viscera Film Festival (2007-2013) a touring festival based in California, followed by other US examples like Etheria Film Night (2012), Ax Wound Film Festival (2015) and Women in Horror Film Festival (2017). In the UK, there is Jennifer’s Bodies (2011), in Australia Stranger With My Face International Film Festival (2012), in Japan Scream Queen Filmfest Tokyo (2013), in Canada Bloody Mary Film Festival (2016) and in Germany The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival (2017). Interviews with the women who founded these festivals explore their goals, approaches to programming and, more broadly, experiences in the industry. As filmmakers themselves, they also delve into what it means to be a woman working in horror, revealing both its challenges as well as the supportive and collaborative international community they discovered and nurtured through their festivals.