Women in Horror Month Interview with Writer/Film Festival Director Laura Di Girolamo

As you may know, February is “Women in Horror” month. To celebrate, PromoteHorror.com asked women from different professions if they would like to answer some questions about being a “Woman in Horror.” One of the women, who was kind enough to answer our questions, was the wonderful writer and film festival director Laura Di Girolamo. Lets see what she said about being a “Woman in Horror”…

-PH: When did you first become a horror fan?

-Laura: There wasn’t a particular moment that I can recall, but I remember being fascinated as a kid by the creepy media that my parents (usually my mom, who’s always been a horror fan at heart) were watching on TV, from The X-Files to 90s horror like Arachnophobia and Misery. When I entered puberty and became a loud, opinionated, nerdy teenager, I gravitated towards the dark and weird: grunge, metal, and rock music, goth and punk fashion, an obsession with occult and true crime books, and, of course, horror.

-PH: Was there a specific moment when you realized that you wanted to go from being a fan of horror to a woman who contributes to the genre, or did it just kind of happen naturally?

-Laura: A bit of both, really. I’ve identified as a feminist since learning what the word meant in high school, and I’ve always sought out media made by or centred around women, since, as a woman myself, I could relate to it much more. When I started writing about film for blogs around seven years ago, I was frustrated that the film festivals I was attending – especially the horror ones – had such little female representation. It wasn’t until I saw The Babadook at the Toronto After Dark Film Fest in 2014 that I realized how valuable films made by women, expressing specifically female fears (the unique terror of feeling like you’re a bad mother), could be. It made me want to go out there and find more genre films directed by women, and make sure as many people as possible could see them to amplify those female voices in horror.

-PH: What does having a “Women in Horror” month mean to you?

-Laura: It’s a month to draw awareness to films that don’t often get the spotlight, especially the ones we really love and think more people should too. It’s a time for women to celebrate our victories, individually and collectively, and express our hopes and dreams for the future of the industry.

-PH: How do you think the role of women in horror has changed since you got involved in horror? Have you personally noticed a change from when you started?

-Laura: I think that the film industry is becoming aware of how big a draw horror films are commercially and how passionate its fans are, and how much audiences want diverse voices from under-represented communities, whether those voices are women, non-binary, trans, queer, or people of colour. There’s been a bit of change in this direction, but not as much as there should be. The industry is still very male and very white, because it’s still seen as a risk for major studios to back minority filmmakers even if audiences want them.

-PH: What do you think the future holds for women in horror?

-Laura: More women are definitely being given the chance to make more horror films, and some of them – like three-time BMFF alumna Gigi Saul Guerrero and director of Blumhouse’s Culture Shock – are making films about issues that affect them on a personal level or within their communities. I’d love to see more of this! I’d also love to see less weight placed on box office performance for women in the film industry. It’s so demotivating to label films directed by women “failures” if they underperform at the box office despite a positive reaction from fans, and oftentimes this will hinder a female filmmaker’s career more significantly than if she was a man (never forget how much garbage Zack Snyder is allowed to make, no matter how hard it bombs). Trolls online love to say that a particular film failed because it “only” speaks to women, as if women don’t deserve our own films to cherish and relate to.

-PH: This is Women in Horror Month 11…how long do you think we will continue to celebrate this month before women get the recognition they deserve?

-Laura: Honestly, we should celebrate this month forever! Even if the industry changes to such an extent that women are given all the same opportunities as men, feminism itself should be intersectional. We can’t champion women without also championing black women, or queer women, or disabled women, or indigenous women, or any other filmmaker from a community that faces barriers in getting their work made and screened for an audience. Just as a film fan in general, I WANT to see films made from as many different viewpoints as possible. What makes film richer and more fascinating are new stories.

-PH: Who is your favorite final girl, and favorite female villain?

-Laura: I’m fascinated by so many female villians, and it’s so hard to pick just one! If I had to narrow it down – Margaret White from Carrie (upsettingly terrifying), Lucille from Crimson Peak (fashionably terrifying), and Asami from Audition (creatively terrifying!). Favourite final girl is much easier – the Alien Queen herself, Ellen Ripley.

-PH: Being that this is PromoteHorror.com, please feel free to plug your current/next horror project.

-Laura: My main project right now is working on the planning and programming for this year’s Bloody Mary Film Festival, a yearly screening series that spotlights horror, sci-fi, and fantasy shorts and feature films directed by female-identifying Canadian filmmakers. Our fourth annual festival is happening super soon – April 23rd and 24th at the Revue Cinema in Toronto! www.bloodymaryfilmfest.com

I’m also a film journalist – my reviews and musings on gender and genre have appeared in Exclaim!, Rue Morgue, Grim Magazine, Daily Dead, Ghastly Grinning, the Shudder blog, and various places around the web and in print. You can read more of my writing at www.lauradigital.com or follow me on Twitter at @laura_digi. The most recent thing I wrote that I’m quite proud of is this piece on aesthetic beauty in horror film, and why we dismiss it based on some pretty sexist assumptions. https://dailydead.com/editorial-in-defense-of-beauty-aesthetics-in-horror-movies/

We would like to thank  for taking the time to answer our questions, but more importantly for her contribution to horror!

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