Etheria Film Night 2022 

Each year, the team at Etheria gathers a selection of some of the strongest short films made by female filmmakers in the realm of genre cinema. This year’ss selection was, as usual, very strong. This short film review roundup is dedicated to these creative ladies and their fantastic work: 

This Is Our Home (2021) 

Written and directed by A.K. Espada, this short stars Mor Cohen and Ruba Thérèse Mansouri in an effective story of two roommates at odds on how to maintain their place and how to rectify the rodent problem in their home. The film makes very good points in how it approaches the debate over who has a right to live in a dwelling and how to get rid of rodents humanely. While the latter is quite important and a lot of people don’t seem to care, the use of archival footage of a rodent in distress is something many, including this viewer, will find to be a turn off from the film. It’s a bold choice to include it, but was it really necessary? That being said, Cohen and Mansouri do excellent work here, the cinematography is on point, the choices of dialog, setting, costumes, etc are all quite strong. 

Inheritance (2021) 

This short film from writer/director Annalise Lockhart uses horror and scifi to bring forth a story about a family living with their history, the history of their people, and so much more which should not be spoiled here. There is a lot in this one and the supernatural is used to make a point. The film takes the supernatural and works with it in a way that is effective on more than a scary level, there is something more there, something that is exactly the reason viewers should seek this one out. The main cast here is composed of lead Victoria A Villier, Ron Brice, and DeLeon Dallas, who all turn in strong performances, bringing their characters to life in a way that makes them a believable family unit and also gives them the presence needed to really gives this film more than just one dimensions. Villier is particularly great here. 

Dana (2020) 

Written and directed by Lucía Forner Segarra, Dana takes the rape revenge film and modernizes it while also giving it a new voice. Many of its sub-genre predecessors were made by male voices, showing a view on the situations that was very male gaze oriented. This one, along with a few in the sub-genre, bring a female voice and the female gaze to a hard subject and its turn around so to speak. Here, Lucía Forner Segarra takes this hard subject and spins it, adding a reality to how it hits the lead character and then adding some humor to lighten the mood while never making fun of the central subject. This one is about women taking back their own safety and body autonomy, but also about so much more, including what it is to be a woman in a world where rapists can get away with a proverbial slap on the wrist. This one is shot very well, with action scenes that go quickly but are clearly visible, and a sense of humor that adds to the story and helps the message go through. Lead Thais Blume is fantastic in her part, imbuing her character with strength but also vulnerability. This is HER film. 

Lucid (2021) 

A film about the creative process guided through art school and people who perhaps should not be involved in guiding artists’ development. Written by Deanna Milligan and Claire E. Robertson with Milligan directing, this one feels like the inside of a creative’s brain, with all the chaos, creativity, self-doubt, and joy of creating. The film approaches these things in a way that is beautiful, starting with an opening sequence that looks to be choreographed to the music chosen, taking the viewer along with the lead into her art school and through many levels and types of art. The film goes from there and becomes truly about the lead and her creative process, switching styles visually here and there to match the mood needed for the story. Lead Caitlin Taylor is fantastic as Mia, the artist at the center of everything, the source of the creativity, the person who lives the art. This is a carefully crafted film that will hit artists at their core and make them reminisce about finding their voice and themselves through their early art.  

Freya (2020) 

Set in the near future, Freya follows the life of Jade as she navigates having technology ever present and sometimes making decisions for her. This film balances science fiction, technology and its affects, living in a world where everything is overshared through different moods, emotions, and reactions. The film has plenty of humor which help ease the viewer into discourse about important subjects that should be talked about more as we get closer and closer to the future depicted here. Written and starring Rhona Rees and directed by Camille Hollett-French, this short film packs a punch. The subject(s) at hand here are taken on face on and given the treatment most would not dare to. Hollett-French shows that she has a mastery for bringing forth hard subjects and making them more palatable. Rees shows talent and a willingness to make the film what it is.  

The Familiars (2020) 

After the death of her grandmother, a young girl discovers that she may have inherited something special from her. As things change in the wake of the passing, her mother swings back and forth in moods, forcing her to take decision. Here, the performances need to come first. Young MIllie Alcock is amazing in the lead of Alison, she is full of subtlety, vulnerability, strength, and so much more, showing that she knows her capacities as an actress and is ready to use it all. Written by Octavia Barron Martin and Alexis Talbot-Smith, and directed by Millicent Malcolm, this short is about power, learning how and when to use, but also about family and the things that are left to us by previous generations.  

Come F*ck my Robot (2020) 

Based on a Craigslist post, this film directed by Mercedes Bryce Morgan who co-wrote it with Reuben Guberek and Katrina Kudlick, this highly entertaining short film takes the premise of a Craigslist post and creates a full story that starts from there, bring a young man to a creator’s house, adds a robot, and asks the question “what if this robot was sentient?” This leads to some odd humor that works really well, some quite human emotions and worries, and a tale that makes anyone watching it think for a minute about technology and what may be going too far with it. The film looks polished and seems to be set in the 90s given the cars, technology, … Something that is becoming a bit of a theme lately as the 90s seem to be cool again. The soundtrack for the one, as well as the other shorts in this list, is fantastic. 

 

The festival’s jury named Freya best of the night and gave Gigi Saul Guerrero the Inspiration Award.  

You can watch these short films on Shudder from June 19th to July 19th, 2022.