What to Look For at the Final Girls Berlin Film Festival
The fifth edition of Final Girls Berlin Film Festival was just announced and will take place between February 6 – 9, 2020 at City Kino Wedding. It will continue to raise the bar by showcasing horror written directed, and/or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. Berlin continues to set the standard for inclusive storytelling.
Festival co-director Eli Lewy calls this year’s festival edition the “most expansive and international yet, presenting a wide array of films by visionary filmmakers that represent the diversity and originality that can be found in the current horror landscape.” The exciting program features eight curated short blocks and nine feature films. The film festival doesn’t just talk the talk, but also walks the walk with a horror-inspired self-defense workshop, an exhibition, a festival party with multimedia drag performances, and specialist talks on horror martyrs, made-for-TV horror, ‘female monsters,’ and ‘bad mothers’ in Mexican horror cinema.
“Horror is a very elastic term,” adds fellow co-director Sara Neidorf, “and we’re excited to discover films that make us question and expand our conceptions of what horror can be, both in ways that are distant from and uncannily near our own realities.” We have put together a few of our favorites that are can’t misses for this years festival. You can find a complete schedule for all events here.
The Pitch: Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a newly pregnant woman whose idyllic existence takes an alarming turn when she develops a compulsion to eat dangerous objects. As her husband (Austin Stowell) and his family tighten their control over her life, she is forced to confront the dark secret behind her uncontrollable obsession. From the producers of The Rider and The Tale, and executive producer Joe Wright (Darkest Hour), SWALLOW plays like a warped fairy tale, posing provocative questions about the expectations imposed on women, women’s control over their own bodies, and the psychologically damaging effects of patriarchal culture.
(Dir. Carlo Mirabel, Produced by Mollye Asher, Mynette Louie, Carole Baraton, Frederic Fiore, USA, 2019) Berlin Premiere
Why we are interested: The buzz for swallow has gained speed in the states ever since its positive reception at Fantastic Fest. A movie that is a devastating look at how women’s bodies are treated by society and how that spills over into their own self image could not come at a more important time.
ROCK PAPER SCISSORS
The Pitch: The routine of eccentric, maladjusted siblings is disrupted when their half-sister arrives looking for her share of the inheritance, resulting in a series of sick games to see who is the rock, who is the paper, and who is the scissor.
(Dir. Macarena García Lenzi & Martín Blousson, Argentina, 2019) German Premiere
Why we are excited: Another festival favorite. This movie is flat out bonkers. It feels like a darker more visceral version of Would You Rather. If you are into playing games and bizarre movies that will make you want to talk afterwards then don’t miss it.
Short Film Showcases
There are eight short film blocks with a ton of familiar faces and a few newcomers we cannot wait to see. The category title’s alone have us interested!
I. BAD ROMANCE
SOMETIMES, I THINK ABOUT DYING (Dir. Stephanie Abel Horowitz, USA, 2019)
ATTACHMENT (Dir. Katarzyna Babicz, Poland, 2019)
CRUST (Dir. Isabella Avery, UK, 2019)
SPORTS DAY (Dir. Lin Tu, China, 2019)
IT’S EASIER TO RAISE CATTLE (Dir. Amanda Nell Eu, Malaysia, 2017)
FOYER (Dir. Sophie B. Jacques, Canada, 2019)
DEEP TISSUE (Dir. Meredith Alloway, USA, 2019)
II. SOCIAL ILLS
RE-HOME (Dir. Izzy Lee, USA, 2019)
WHITE GIRL (Dir. Nadia Latif, UK, 2019)
EXAM (Dir. Sonia K. Hadad, Iran, 2019)
SNOWFLAKES (Dir. Faye Jackson, UK, 2019)
TORCHING THE DUSTIES (Dir. Marlene Goldman, Canada, 2019)
REFORMED (Dir. Samantha Timms, Australia, 2019)
TINGLE MONSTERS (Dir. Alexandra Serio, USA, 2019)
III. GRAVEYARD SHIFT
NEUROTICA EPISODE 1: EUREKA! (Dir. Laura Moss, USA, 2019)
PLAYTIME’S OVER (Dir. Tony Reames, Written by Haley Reams, USA, 2019)
THE VAMPIRE OF SOHO (Dir. Andy Edwards, Produced by Patricia Rybarczyk & Tansi Inayat, UK, 2019)
ALTITUDE (Dir. Nicole Scherer, Austria, 2019)
PEPPER (Dir. Kate Felix, Canada, 2019)
ZOMBIOSIS (Dir. Cris Gambín, Spain, 2018)
SEVEN LEVELS DEEP (Dir. Pina Brutal, Germany, 2019)
INFERNAL REQUIEM (Dir. Barbara Como, Italy, 2019)
GIRL IN THE SHED (Dir. Sophie Ansell, UK, 2019)
REVENGE ANGELS (Dir. Maren Moreno, USA, 2019)
MOTHER’S GUT (Dir. Matty Mancey, UK, 2019)
WOMAN IN STALL (Dir. Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinell, Canada/UK, 2018)
LILI (Dir. Yfke van Berckelaer, The Netherlands, 2019)
THE RAT (Dir. Carlen May-Mann, USA, 2019)
SAFE SPACE (Dir. Annabelle Attanasio, USA, 2019)
THE FOLLOWER (Dir. Stepahnie Szerlip, USA, 2019)
GASLIGHT (Dir. Louisa Weichmann, Australia, 2019)
RAPE CARD (Dir. Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Nathan Hughes-Berry, USA, 2017)
V. QUEER HORROR
SKIN (Dir. Audrey Rosenberg, USA, 2019)
TEA PARTIES FOR BABIES (Dir. Teja LoBreglio, USA, 2019)
LABRYS (Dir. BJ Colangelo, USA, 2019)
BLOOD ORANGE (Dir. Aliya Haq, USA, 2018)
LOVE LETTER (Dir. Zeddy Chevron, Canada, 2019)
DESTRUCTION MAKES THE WORLD BURN BRIGHTER (Dir. Kalen Artinian, Produced by Claire Allore, Brendon Whelton & Alexandria Benoit, Canada, 2019)
LONE WOLF (Dir. January Jones, Australia, 2019)
VI. TRUE CRIME
LAST SEEN (Dir. Drew Van Steenburgen, Written by Annie Powers & Drew Van Steenburgen, USA, 2019)
SOUTH SHORE (Dir. Xavier Hamel, Produced by Nellie Carrier, Audrey D. Laroche & Xavier Hamel, Canada, 2018)
PHOTOTAXIS (Dir. Melissa Ferrari, USA, 2017)
WATCHING KARLA HOMOLKA (Dir. Jordan Steinhauer, Canada, 2019)
KAYA (Dir. Catherine Fordham, USA, 2019)
CHILDREN OF SATAN (Dir. Thea Hvistendahl, Sweden, 2019)
VII. BLOOD TIES
NOT A BABY (Dir. Shannon Hanmer, Canada, 2019)
FIRE GIRLS (Dir. Chell Stephen, USA, 2019)
MAKR (Dir. Hana Kazim, UAE, 2019)
WATER HORSE (Dir. Sarah Wisner & Sean Temple, USA, 2019)
ELIXIR (Dir. Virginia Powers Hendry, USA, 2018)
MAGGIE MAY (Dir. Mia’Kate Russell, Australia, 2018)
CHANGELING (Dir. Faye Jackson, UK, 2019)
VIII. FOLK TALES
DRUM WAVE (Dir. Natalie Erika James, Australia, 2018)
BOOGEYWOMAN (Dir. Erica Scoggins, USA, 2019)
THE DOULA (Dir. Sarah Elliot, USA, 2019)
ALWAYS GOING NEVER GONE (Wanda Nolan, Canada, 2019)
HUNTING SEASON (Dir. Shannon Kohli, USA, 2019)
XIOMARA (Dir. Loelle Monsanto, Suriname, 2019)
VINEGAR BATHS (Dir. Amanda Nell Eu, Malaysia, 2018)
There are a number of lectures this year but perhaps the most interesting can be found with Andrea Subisatti’s AS GOD IS MY WITNESS: MARTYRDOM IN MODERN-DAY HORROR. The concept of martyrdom is widely used but rarely fully understood–a fact due, in some part, to its changing relevance across changing times. From Joan of Arc to Socrates to the contemporary incidents of terrorism and suicide bombings, martyrdom has come to mean a great many things. MARTYRS and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE don’t have much in common in the cinematic sense, but both films tackle the subject of modern-day martyrdom in diverse and theologically nuanced ways. Based on a chapter from the forthcoming Scared Sacred: Idolatry, Religion, and Worship in the Horror Film (2020), this presentation will seek to unpack the convoluted term by drawing from its etymological origins and culminating in a discussion of how the term relates to modern horror. Subisatti is co-host of the fantastic Faculty of Horror and Editor in Chief of Rue Morgue she is one of the leading voices in horror academia and reason enough to make the trip to Berlin.
See you all in Berlin!
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.