The Final Girls Berlin Film Fest runs between February 6 – 9, 2020 at City Kino Wedding offer a sensational line up of horror features, horror shorts and horror talks. We where lucky enough to hear to some of the amazing people taking part including Horror Specialist Valeria Villegas Lindvall.
Valeria Villegas Lindvall is a Doctoral candidate in Film Studies at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research aims to bring a feminist focus to the understanding of the Latin American female monster, and she has presented her work in Sweden, Mexico, England, Scotland, Estonia and now Germany. She is a contributing editor in MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture and has worked in several publications, most prominently as a co-editor, writer and translator at Rolling Stone Mexico.
Her most recent publication is The Flying Uterus: From Abjection to Divinity in the Book of Birdie (2016) about the exercise of female writing and feminist authorship. In addition, she has two forthcoming book chapters for 2020. One included in Women Make Horror (ed. Dr. Alison Peirse), about Gigi Saul Guerrero’s unique portrayal of the Latin American female monster, and another in Screen Bodies in the Digital Age: Violence, Voyeurism and Power (ed. Dr. Susan Flynn), about the horrors of the digital screen in Issa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber’s Cam (2018).
Her talk at Final Girls Berlin Film Fest ‘¡Ay mamá! Bad mothers, bad women and Mexican horror’ centres the figure of the bad woman as a staple of Mexican horror film in order to shine light on its history, deeply traversed by the quest for a national identity and the up keeping of problematic hierarchies.
Below Horror Specialist Valeria Villegas Lindvall tells us all about her favourite horror film:
“One of my first contacts with sci fi and horror was through reading: for some reason, my folks had gotten a bunch of photocopied pulp magazine type stories a là Weird Tales from an uncle. As a kid, I loved to read them over and over to learn and practice English: heads in jars, paranormal stuff and mad scientists were as fascinating as they were horrifying to me. As a child of the early 90s, I also got my fair share of horror/fantasy films as a weekend TV diet staple: dubbed versions of It, Critters, Gremlins and Leperchaun were on Mexican TV on heavy rotation. Horror came early into my life, though my relationship with the genre has changed in weird ways throughout time.
When I watched It in its original language I developed a newfound love for the film. It made me relive how terrified I was ––as my whole generation, for sure–– of showering for a while, thinking Pennywise would reach out. Tim Curry’s Pennywise is still one of my favorite performances in horror, up there with Dr. Frank-N-Furter. But alongside my childhood TV diet also came Mexican genre films: Vacaciones de terror (René Cardona III, 1989) was key in that heavy rotation, and it probably influences my favorite picks much more these days, however campy or funny it seems in 2020.
Today, I find that my relationship with my favourite horror films is also a relationship I have with identity and history, as I rediscover the ways in which Latin America’s fraught and complicated past, present and future are uniquely put forward in horror. It would be quite difficult for me to pick a single favourite, so bear with me as I cite three female-led films.
Alucarda (Juan López Moctezuma, 1977). The film has become somewhat of a cult piece despite its relative dismissal in Mexico while López Moctezuma was alive, and it’s definitely a favourite. Its in-your-face Gothic atmospheres, flagellating nuns, piercing screams, synthy, nightmarish score and an epic Baphomet mask are enough to make it a trippy experience, but I believe it explores the threat of teenage girls and their autonomy ––and does so with great ambiguity. Transgression is front and centre in the film through queer intimacy and the radical denial of female submission. A truly chilling production that deserved much more merit in its time: each time I watch it, I ponder something different. It made me discover that there’s a savage and raw underbelly to López Moctezuma’s interpretation of the Gothic.
Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Madre de Dios (2015) is strictly speaking a short film, but I include it because of its spectacular role-reversal: in the depths of the Mexican wilderness, the spawn of brujería is born to a white woman. Its deeply disturbing ambience and grim lighting make it a horrific watch, and its vengeance on dominant ways of thinking, seeing and believing make it a clever and eerie comment on Latin America’s exploitation in different regards.
As boas maneiras (Good Manners, Juliana Rojas & Marco Dutra, 2017) is an unmissable piece of Brazilian finery. It manages to convey uncompromising queer tenderness while reevaluating the werewolf in a contemporary setting ––not to mention its fantastic photography in urban scenes, almost taken from a dream. It never loses sight of race, class, gender and sexuality hierarchies as inescapable questions and portrays them with remarkable marksman/markswomanship.”
The fifth edition of Final Girls Berlin Film Festival will take place between February 6 – 9, 2020 at City Kino Wedding continuing to raise the bar by showcasing horror written directed, and/or produced by women and non-binary filmmakers. The exciting program features eight curated short blocks and nine feature films, a horror-inspired self-defence workshop, an exhibition, a festival party with multimedia drag performances, and specialist talks.