The Women in Sci-Fi Spectacular is Berlin’s first film event for women in sci-fi, held at b-ware! Ladenkino on August 17 and 18, 2019.
Final Girls Film Fest is a powerful force in this ever-important fight toward the creation of spaces for female voices in the art world. Now preparing for its fifth consecutive festival this upcoming February at b-ware! Ladenkino, FGFF is committed to showcasing horror films created by women — “anyone with the female experience, past or present,” inclusive of trans people. But throughout the years of fighting against the “tokenization of women as objects or pretense victims” (you know the old horror tropes: screeching blonde women with ruby red, splattering blood), the organizers discovered yet another film genre generally void of women: sci-fi.
On August 17 and 18, 2018, the first “Women in Sci-Fi Spectacular” is brought to you by the Final Girls Film Fest folks, alongside David DMP Moore.
It promises everything from dystopian ’80s cult films to queer romantic sci-fi comedies to women in a post-revolutionary world, fighting the patriarchy. Above all, it’s a fantastic way to celebrate art from females with powerful stories to tell — in a world that so often responds only to cis-men’s takes on robots and outer space. It would surely make Björk proud, so it can’t be wrong.
We sat down with co-organizer Eli Lewy (who works with Sara and Lara on the FGFF) for more insight on this essential Berlin film festival, how Final Girls started, and why it’s essential to give space to women in, well, space.
Also, submit your short films to Final Girls Film Fest here: https://filmfreeway.com/FinalGirlsBerlinFilmFestival
How did Final Girls Berlin start?
Co-directors Sara Neidorf and Lara Mandelbrot met in late 2016. Sara and I have been friends for years and when she told me about Final Girls it was clear to me that I had to join! I came on board a couple of months later and we immediately started planning our first festival edition that took place in February 2017. We organized it all in less than 2 months. I still don’t quite know how we managed to do it.
We are all avid horror buffs and were excited by the idea of carving out our own feminist space in the festival landscape dedicated to showing horror films made by women* and non-binary filmmakers.
Why do you think it’s specifically important to feature sci-fi films by women?
Our festival is more focused on horror so we thought it would be exciting to branch out and do this special edition.
When we started looking for films, we were surprised to find that sci-fi films made by women* are tougher to find than horror films! There are some horror film festivals that focus on female* filmmakers like the Ax Wound Festival in the US and Scream Queen Film Fest in Tokyo, but few, if any, that revolve around sci-fi.
We managed to find some excellent films, but they were quite hard to get a hold of – all the more reason to screen these sci-fi gems!
How do you perceive sci-fi films by women to be different than ones by men? Are there stories men can’t tell as well?
Most genre films are made by white cis men*, which means viewers are used to regarding the male* perspective and gaze as the norm. We believe that adding more voices and points of view can only enrich cinema in general.
I’m not saying that these stories can’t be told by men*, that’s too essentialist and rigid in my opinion, but there’s no doubt that films made by women* add a lot to the genre as they incorporate the experiences, anxieties, and dilemmas women* face while out in the world, and this can clearly be seen in our “Women in Sci-Fi Spectacular“ (17-18 August) film selection.
We will be showing Lizzie Borden’s dystopian 1983 cult film BORN IN FLAMES (18.8.2019 at 6:00), for example, about a group of women* in a post-revolutionary world fighting against the patriarchy, as well as shorts that knowingly play with the preconceptions about female* robots (Shorts Program 3: AI, 18.8.2018 at 10:00). We’ll also be showing lighter fare, of course, like Madeleine Olnek’s queer romantic comedy CODEPENDENT LESBIAN SPACE ALIEN SEEKS SAME (17.8.2019 at 10:00).
Can you talk a bit about the success of the previous years of Final Girls? How has Berlin received the festival?
We’re quite happy with how things are going! Next year will be our fifth edition, and we are still going strong.
There’s definitely a horror and genre community in Berlin, and we have our lovely regulars, but we still want the festival to grow and for more people to find out about us! There’s so much going on in Berlin at any given moment, and we try hard not to get lost in the shuffle.
This year, we definitely want to try and focus more on Berlin PR – we’ve gotten quite a bit of international coverage due to PR maven Kaila Hier, but Berlin is our city at the end of the day. That’s why it’s so great to be featured here on your fantastic blog! Our festival is niche and we like it that way – but we’re pretty sure there are plenty of horror fans living in Berlin who don’t know about us yet.
What would you tell women who have aspirations to make films but don’t know where to begin?
That’s a great question! We’ve seen thousands of submissions at this point and are constantly amazed by how fresh and original a lot of the films are. There is still so much to be explored when it comes to genre films.
The first and perhaps hardest step is to actually commit to making a movie. Things won’t go seamlessly at first, but making things is the only way to really learn – so it’s important not to be hard on yourself. This might seem very obvious, but my suggestion would be to start off with a strong concept – a compelling concept can really take you far, especially when it comes to short films.
Make sure the film is strong from beginning to end and don’t rely on a twist ending too much. It doesn’t have to be slick or perfect, but your passion and point of view should shine through. Also, try to keep it as short and tight as possible. We see a lot of films that would’ve been great if they were half as long. Editing is your friend!
What’s your relationship with b-ware! Ladenkino like?
b-ware! Ladenkino is an offbeat independent cinema (and video store!) with an eclectic, weird atmosphere that suits us! A lot of our audience members have told us how cosy the place is and we take that to heart. There really isn’t another cinema like it in Berlin.
Collaborator David DMP Moore’s fb page: https://www.facebook.com/daviddmpmoore15/?ref=br_rs