Five Badass Ladies of Fantasia International Film Festival 2012

by Olivia Saperstein

It’s the summer for international sports, but how about international filmmaking? I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, an international genre film experience that is now in its sixteenth year, running from July 19 to August 9th. While the festival screens 160 films, ranging from anime to horror to exploitation, and more, I still had to sift through the collection to find my lady directors. There were only a few (sigh), but the ones I managed to find–as well as women who had other roles in the filmmaking process–were pretty darn badass.

Here are five women who are worth doing a little research on:


1. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen (Norway) 

A coming of age film for…girls! Who thought that would ever be possible? Jacobsen’s film, Turn Me On, Dammit!, highlights the unfortunate slut-shaming that teen girls with a sex drive often have to endure. It’s both honest and complete with the dick humor found in an Apatow film. This flick left New York in March after its opening, but will hopefully return in the months to come!


2.Jennifer Blanc-Biehn (USA)

No 90210 fanatic could forget the lady who played Janet in season one, but is perhaps best known for her role in The Divide. Blanc-Biehn, who is married to the Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens, The Divide), has had a long acting career, and now shares a production company with her husband, Blanc-Biehn Productions. At Fantasia she screened The Victim, which she starred in and produced–Michael directing and playing opposite her. As a warning to the more chaste-minded, the tagline reads “Even bad girls need protecting.” This film is utterly hilarious low-brow kitsch and should be viewed with a bunch of friends and/or a vibrator close by, just in case. The Victim has its New York release at The Quad Cinema on August 24th–get those tickets!


3. Allison De Fren (USA)

De Fren’s film The Mechanical Bride was by far one of the creepiest films at Fantasia this year. Why, you ask? Oh you know, maybe because it documented men who live in houses full of life-size “Real Dolls.” Even more strange than the subject matter at hand, was the film’s ability to make one question their own judgement. What’s the line between thinking something is weird and policing sexuality? What sort of psychology and morale surrounds the obsession and love for something that is not living? It takes sheer talent to not only scare your audience, but to also incite ethical thought. The film also played at Hot Docs and Sci-Fi London this year.


4. Jennifer Lynch (USA)

It’s normal to be skeptical about the daughter of someone as iconic as David Lynch, but Jennifer has proven her ability to self-define in her works, which are often seen as controversial (consider 1993’s Boxing Helena). This year at Fantasia, she screens her new film Chained, about a taxi driving serial killer who is raising a son. Penny Vosniak will also be showing her documentary on Lynch, entitled Despite the Gods, that follows Jennifer on a series of filmmaking adventures. 

5. Nanase Ohkawa (Japan)

Ohkawa is a member of the all female manga-creating team CLAMP, and has recently penned the screenplay for Blood-C: The Last Dark, the latest installment of the Blood series that started a comic and has morphed into a TV show. The story follows a teenage slayer, Slaya, who uncovers corruption in the Tokyo government and seeks revenge for all of its wrong-doings. Never has an anime lady been so ass-kicking! 

Images courtesy of GeekTyrant, Side 2, Occidental Media Arts and Culture, The Film Stage, Anime Vice

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