Heidi Moore can’t quite explain the kind of movies she’s programming for the first-ever Medusa Underground Film Festival, but that’s exactly the point. “It’s a lot of movies that are not really definable,” she says. “A lot of times they’re movies that you’re like, ‘Um, what did I just watch? Who made this?’” Moore saw plenty of movies like that while working as a judge for Vermont’s female-focused horror film festival Ax Wound, and after two years of being intrigued by movies that were not quite right for Ax Wound, she decided to start a festival of her own.”
“You’re really letting go and creating art when you’re just doing things that you’re not worried about if it’s super-commercial or if it’s going to appeal to a general audience,” Moore says about the movies she’s showing at Medusa, which, like Ax Wound, is focused entirely on female filmmakers. A filmmaker herself (her latest feature, Kill Dolly Kill, is in post-production), Moore understands the importance of spaces for women to highlight their work and support each other. “Events like this, and things like Women in Horror Month, help women realize that they’re not alone and that they do have allies and people they can turn to,” she says. “You can meet other women, network and be able to create your projects without this type of oppression.”
The three-day event will showcase more than 50 short films, along with one feature. The festival kicks off with a free night of films and local female vendors at Backstage Bar and Billiards on Friday, before moving to the Artisan for film screenings on Saturday and Sunday. “I wanted [attendees] to have more of an artistic environment to be in, and I know that when people walk in, they’re going to be excited for the event,” Moore says of her choice of venue.
The festival will also include a Sunday brunch at the Thunderbird sponsored by LA’s Women in Media and a Saturday night mixer with entertainment by local DJ Speedy’s Cinema Therapy. Cinema Therapy performances present music set to movie clips, and for Medusa Speedy will play along with a custom selection of festival submissions. “There were films that we couldn’t quite fit into the fest, but they had beautiful visuals,” Moore explains.
Some of Moore’s festival highlight picks include Plastic Plaything, from local filmmaker Rose Sailcat; I Love You, an “art porn” directed by musician Brooke Candy; Annaliese Eisenstadt’s romantic comedy Micro Love; and Iranian filmmaker Sahar Soleimani’s Isolated Crows of Solitude, about which Moore says, “I don’t even know how to describe it, but it sticks in your mind for a long time.” If Moore achieves her goal, all of the festival will have the same effect.
MEDUSA UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL January 11-13, various times. $15-$80 passes. Artisan Hotel Boutique & other venues, medusaundergroundfilmfest.com.