We may only be a few weeks into 2020, but festival season starts early here at Biff Bam Pop! with the fifth edition of the Final Girls Film Festival in Berlin, taking place from February 6-9. This is one of the most unique and exciting horror festivals on the schedule for the year, because it showcases women and non-binary filmmakers from across the globe. This year’s lineup of features and shorts from festival co-directors Eli Lewy and Sara Neidorf is an exciting look at what some of the most compelling filmmakers are making in horror right now. I think there’s a great chance that you could find your new favourite filmmaker among this talented group.
Mary Harron returns with a film about three young women who were sentenced to death in the infamous Manson murders case. Their sentences became life imprisonment when the death penalty was lifted in California but one young graduate student was sent in to tutor them. Through her, we witness their transformation as they face the reality of their horrific crimes.
THE DEEPER YOU DIG
Directors Toby Poser and John Adams direct and star with their daughter Zelda in a tale of secrets and guilt that echoes The Lovely Bones and The Telltale Heart. This one has been getting rave reviews from the festival circuit, including a very successful screening at Frightfest 2019.
THE FATHER’S SHADOW
In this Brazilian horror from director Gabriela Amaral Almeida, a young girl turns to the dark arts to cope with her fractured family and the loss of her mother.
DARK WHISPERS VOL. 1
Eleven women directors from Australia combine forces for an anthology horror stemming from the strange tales in The Book of Dark Whispers. Angie Black (The Five Provocations), Madeleine Purdy (Girl by Fear), and Megan Riakos (Crushed) are just a few of the intriguing slate of women on this offbeat project.
Director Penny Lane, who brought us offbeat documentaries Nuts! (2016) and Our Nixon (2013), comes to Final Girls with a compelling doc about the Satanic Temple, which has found both a new identity and a new generation of parishioners (am I allowed to use that word for Satanists?) through a media-savvy strategy of advocating religious freedom while being a thorn in an increasingly-fervent Catholic Church’s side.
Canadian talent Grace Glowicki directs and stars as the titular character in this twisted story of an ostracized man who is being stalked and hunted by mysterious forces, and the friendship that gives him the courage to stand up to his predators. Glowicki seems to have undergone a dramatic transformation in Tito and imbues the character with both deep weirdness and a curious likeability.
ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS
Argentinian directors Macarena García Lenzi and Martín Blousson tell the story of two eccentric, maladjusted siblings who are shaken when their half-sister arrives looking for her share of their inheritance, resulting in a series of sick games to determine who’ll come out on top.
In addition to these features, Final Girls will showcase short films in a number of compelling programs. BBP favourite Izzy Lee’s Re-Home continues to light up the festival circuit in the “Social Ills” program, shorts from China, Malaysia, Suriname, United Arab Emirates, and homegrown stuff from Canada can be seen in the Bad Romance, Graveyard Shift, #METOO, Queer Horror, Blood Ties, True Crime, and Folk Tales programs. These shorts are often a launching pad for newcomers to the genre or to filmmaking in general, and I’m sure some of the names featured here will be some of the most exciting names in horror for years to come if they aren’t already.
Final Girls will also bring some interesting talks to Berlin, including Amanda Reyes discussing made-for-television movies, Valeria Villegas Lidvall talking about bad mothers in Mexican horror (with a specific nod to La Llorona), Orla Smith talking about female monsters and their evolution over the years, and Rue Morgue’s Andrea Subissati’s talk about martyrdom in horror.
Though many of our readers may not be able to make the trek out to Berlin for Final Girls next week, watch this space as we bring you coverage of the biggest titles in the festival!
The fifth edition of Final Girls Berlin Film Festival will take place between February 6 – 9, 2020 at City Kino Wedding in Berlin, Germany.