"Our mission is to spotlight edgy genre work and their fearless makers, and allow audiences to feel and see through a variety of women’s eyes. We prove to the world that the derogatory label “chick flick” (now applied to ANY film about or by a woman!!) needs to be retired. We want women’s hard work to be talked about and seen, so that there is indisputable proof that talented ladies are creating exciting multi-genre films, and can no longer be ignored." -Mission Statement of the Bleedfest Film Fest
Last year, Jen and I were invited to Bleedfest for the LA premiere of DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK. These lady and sister film makers, Elisabeth and Brenda Fies, were organizing the event - a feature fest in junction with the Viscera Film Fest - and I knew I had met someone special because she invited us into her home to crash. You see these sisters don't only organize the incredible, monthly indie film festival - known as Bleedfest - where independent film makers get a fabulous venue and audience with the best and the brightest in the LA indie scene, but they are independent film makers themselves (hence, they knew we were broke and might not be able to make it). But HA-ZA! we squeezed the last bit of juice out of a credit card and we were on our way! This little girl's dream come true (movie premiere in LA) was brought to you by VISA.
"The holocaust of creativity in modern indie films. With the exception of Lars Von Trier, Crispin Glover and The Short Bus guys, people aren't using the digital revolution to express themselves and push artistic boundaries. Instead they're copying Hollywood films and trying to break into an industry that's already died. Maybe it's a good thing there's no money left in filmmaking and we're all splintering off into niche distribution sources." -Elisabeth Fies
We played with their cult thriller, THE COMMUNE. Elisabeth wrote and directed the film, while Brenda produced. It's evident in every frame of this talented family's work that there is real talent there as well as a seriously dark and fucked sense of humor - you will dig it. There is something beyond impressive about independent film makers like these women - they work their asses off, they spend all their money to back a project, they put their heart into it, and it shows.
Here's an interesting fact for you aspiring film makers, some regions will buy a movie just because there is female nudity in it. Bare breasts. I kid you not. Not wanting to put any of her actresses through such a potentially uncomfortable situation, Elisabeth decided her character in the film would be the one that would take it off.
Now, you might be thinking - 'Oh, God. That poor woman. How awful.' Your own sexuality can be used against you only if you allow it to. Flashback to Bleedfest, we're all sitting in the darkened theater with THE COMMUNE playing. By the by, Elisabeth is a fantastic actress. You uber nerds already know that she's fought the MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS twice. She can play evil. She can also play a sexually liberated mother whose daughter is away from the weekend and wants to get her freak on. It's very sexy and Elisabeth is no victim. She is a strong actress and handles mature themes well. This can also be seen in her directing.
"Twin Peaks is the single biggest influence on me. After it, my two favorites are a tie: Sex, Lies, And Videotape and Terminator 2. Sex was when I realized I could make a movie too, and I could make it very personal and embarrassing and confessional. T2 was when I realized the best way to get a message out into the world was hidden in amazing entertainment value." -Elisabeth Fies
Brenda Fies is a producer and a damn good one. She's already produced four projects - THE COMMUNE, DISTRAUGHT, CONSUMED, and SCREAM QUEEN. DISTRAUGHT is the dark and and disturbing directorial and writing debut for Brenda and it's brilliant.
She is currently working on a new feature called I HATE LA which follows suicide attempts gone wrong - she would know all the gory details, too, as she has twenty five years as a registered nurse. That's right she is actually a hero. She is also incredibly down to earth and generous (as you might have guessed, these ladies are two of the best people on the planet) - there is a lot of medical subject matter in an upcoming project and Brenda was kind enough to see if my medical information was accurate and also, she's a producer, so she can tell you what you can do for the sake of the film and story.
I feel like I know these women and their family intimately and you might too if you have read Mom's Cancer. It is a very real and very beautiful beautiful graphic novel written by their brother, Brian Fies. When their mother in real life is diagnosed with lung cancer, Brian decided to make a comic strip about it. It's insightful, sad, raw, funny, and moving. I mention it now as I was given a copy by Elisabeth during a particularly difficult time and the book was a godsend.
Elisabeth and Brenda are a powerhouse, film making, sibling duo. Their work is edgy, brave, and imaginative. I can't hardly wait to see their new projects. They are so impassioned about independent film making that they put on these Bleedfest Film Festivals at their own expense.
If you are passionate about indie film making and an excellent venue to showcase new talent, then you can join Bleedfest - the community's generosity and support will help keep this festival healthy and alive. Here is the donation link, big spender (insert cheeky wink).
The Fies sisters are an excellent example of what Women In Horror Month is all about - being strong role models that not only make their own fantastic work but also give back to the community by supporting and promoting fellow indie film makers. Brilliant work all around, ladies! Now, get your butts to Bleedfest -- happening today and every first Sunday of the month.