Whether professional programmers, ambitious Kino founders or amateur festival curators, for our February issue we found 12 women who are shaking up the city’s cinema scene. The first: Final Girls Berlin (Feb 1-3 at Friedrichshain’s Ladenkino) curator Sara Neidorf. Since last year, Neidorf has been showing Berliners how horrifying women can be.
Watching Mia Farrow give birth to demon spawn isn’t your typical mother-daughter bonding activity – but it was for Sara Neidorf. Born in Philadelphia, she and her mum spent their evenings renting horror movies from their local Blockbuster. Rosemary’s Baby was one of her favourites. “I was fascinated by its exploration of what can happen when women aren’t in control of their own bodies,” says Neidorf, now 27.
Fifteen years later, that mix of horror and feminism is what defines Neidorf’s own baby, Final Girls Berlin. Held annually with special events throughout the year, this horror festival welcomes audiences of all genders, but features only films directed, written or produced by female and non-binary filmmakers. “Horror is so male-dominated as a genre, it was about time we celebrated the horror and horror-esque films that women have been making.” Part of a three-person team along with fellow film nerds Lara Mandelbrot and Elinor Lewy, Neidorf is the festival’s most visible face, drumming up support among the queer community (she also co-hosts a monthly queer film club in Neukölln) to bring audiences of about 700 people.
It’s a “full-time, unpaid job”, confesses Neidorf, who makes a living as a musician and drum teacher. For the first edition at Z-Bar in February 2017, the programmers had to pay the fees out of their own pockets. Now, they receive a little help via sponsorships and small grants from universities TU and UdK. “Finding sponsors is the hardest thing, but otherwise it’s great: we just kind of learn on the job.”
Final Girls celebrates its first anniversary this month (Feb 1-3) with a third edition at Friedrichshain’s Ladenkino. One programme highlight is Alice Lowe’s Prevenge, a wickedly dark comedy that won the innovation award at Melbourne’s Monster Fest 2016. The tale of a pregnant woman who murders people following the instructions of her unborn child, it’s exactly the kind of “unsavoury, controversial and unnerving” work that Neidorf wants to see more of from female filmmakers – and introduce to new audiences.
Final Girls Berlin, Feb 1-3 | Ladenkino, Friedrichshain, see website for programme