In researching this week’s new entries, I came across a show called “Etheria”. It’s a horror anthology where every episode features a new story directed by a woman. Its listed as premiering on Shudder this week, though it seems to have been there last year in a film festival format. It’s also been available on Amazon since August 20, 2020.
That listing sent me researching. Etheria Film Night is a film festival that features short horror films directed by women. Yet despite premiering less than a year ago in its series format, the “Etheria” website says six seasons have already been made. Five seasons totaling 48 episodes seem to be available on Amazon. I believe this has been done by bringing prior years’ entrants into a season format. Either way, “Etheria” has flown under the radar, with only 22 reviews for its first season on Amazon.
These episodes are best understood as short films. Some are 20 minutes, some are fewer than 10. Still, realizing there’s a 48-episode-and-counting horror series out there directed exclusively by women is phenomenal. It’s not new, but realizing that it’s out there and so under-seen is blowing my mind right now. Go check it out on Amazon or Shudder.
Let’s dive into the new entries:
Outlier (Acorn TV)
co-showrunner Kristine Berg
This Norwegian noir was shot in the Arctic. A crime profiler returns to the Sami community where she grew up. She wants to solve a murder others think has already been resolved. The Sami people are an indigenous people who live in the northern regions of Scandinavia.
Kristine Berg writes and directs with Arne Berggren. Berg has written extensively in Norwegian television.
You can watch “Outlier” on Acorn TV.
directed by Ainsley Gardiner, Briar Grace Smith
“Cousins” follows the lives of three Maori girls. One is stolen from her family and put in an orphanage. The film tracks their separate experiences, and speaks to the unfathomable internal violence of colonialism.
Both Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace Smith are Maori directors. Gardiner was nominated for an Oscar for Best Short Film in 2005, and has produced a number of Taika Waititi’s films, winning best film at New Zealand’s Film and TV Awards for “Boy”.
You can watch “Cousins” on Netflix.
CW: sexual assault
Test Pattern (Starz)
directed by Shatara Michelle Ford
A Black woman is sexually assaulted. Her boyfriend takes her to the hospital. They don’t have a rape kit available. They refer her to another hospital. The night drags on, the pattern repeating, the woman treated more as offender than victim, each hospital referring her to the next.
This is the first feature from writer-director Shatara Michelle Ford.
You can watch “Test Pattern” on Starz.
directed by Tanya Wexler
Kate Beckinsale plays a bouncer who’s gone through a kind of shock therapy to manage her anger. When her boyfriend is murdered and she becomes the suspect, it’s up to her to express that anger by beating dudes up. Oh, and to track down the real killer, of course.
At more than $2 billion worldwide box office, multiple hit action movies, and her own franchise, Beckinsale might be the most bonafide action star who’s rarely thought of that way. She’s reliable, and she’s elevated a lot of mid-budget actioners.
The other big draw here is director Tanya Wexler. She helmed the exceptional “Buffaloed”, which had a sharp sense of humor, laser-focused social criticism, and enabled Zoey Deutch to deliver one of the best comedy performances in recent years. Wexler has a knack for getting her actors to buy into roles and feel comfortable testing genre boundaries.
You can watch “Jolt” on Amazon.
Arab Blues (MUBI)
directed by Manele Labidi
A woman returns to Tunis after years of living in Paris. Her goal is to open up a psychotherapy practice. Golshifteh Farahani stars. You may recognize her from an exceptionally strong supporting performance in last year’s “Extraction”.
This is the first feature film from French-Tunisian writer-director Manele Labidi. She’s also written and directed extensively for theater and radio.
You can watch “Arab Blues” on MUBI.
Mezquite’s Heart (HBO Max)
directed by Ana Laura Calderon
A girl in Northern Mexico wants to help her heartbroken father by playing the harp. The instrument is only played by men, according to tradition, but she’s set on her dream.
Writer-director Ana Laura Calderon primarily works as an editor. This is her second narrative feature film as director. You may also find the film listed as “Corazon de Mezquite”.
You can watch “Mezquite’s Heart” on HBO Max.
directed by Morgan Ingari
Milo meets a gay man at a bar. She decides to become the surrogate for his child. The two struggle with how it changes their understanding of their own lives.
Writer-director Morgan Ingari has worked a number of other jobs on indie projects, such as assistant director and script supervisor, on her way toward her first feature film.
You can watch “Milkwater” on Netflix.
The Last Letter from Your Lover (Netflix)
directed by Augustine Frizzell
A journalist tries to solve a mystery at the heart of a love affair decades prior. She sifts through a trove of letters, the film interweaving her story with the one she begins to learn. Felicity Jones and Shailene Woodley star.
This is Augustine Frizzell’s second feature film as director after 2018’s “Never Goin’ Back”.
You can watch “The Last Letter from Your Lover” on Netflix.
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans (Netflix)
co-directed by Johane Matte
Netflix’s family-friendly, animated series “Trollhunters” was originally created by Guillermo Del Toro. It formed the basis for a universe that included two other animated series: “3Below” and “Wizards: Tales of Arcadia”. After three successful seasons of “Trollhunters”, characters from these shows unite to fight an evil order.
Johane Matte directs with Francisco Ruiz-Velasco and Andrew L. Schmidt. Matte has directed on all three series of the Arcadia universe. She got her start as an assistant animator on 90s TV fare, and progressed to a storyboard artist for shows like “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “The Legend of Korra”, and “The Penguins of Madagascar”.
You can watch “Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans” on Netflix.
Mass Hysteria (Shudder)
co-directed by Arielle Cimino
Salem witch trial re-enactors get themselves caught up in a contemporary witch hunt in this low-budget comedy.
Arielle Cimino directs with Jeff Ryan. It’s the second feature the two have directed together.
You can watch “Mass Hysteria” on Shudder.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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