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A Call For Black Women Horror Film Directors...

by Tambay A. Obenson
November 13, 2013 11:17 AM
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This news reminded me of a 2010 item I published on the old S&A site, on black women horror film directors.

First a quick test: how many women directors can you name who've directed horror films? Kathryn Bigelow immediately comes to mind. Check out Near Dark if you haven’t already; although horror isn’t the milieu in which she typically (or only) works.

Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David Lynch) is another.

Now how many black women horror filmmakers can you name? Or maybe I should first ask, how many black women filmmakers (forget genre) can you name?

It’s not typically a genre in which you’ll find a wealth of women directors working; horror films are typically regarded as a playground for boys, both the makers and the audience. But girls like them too, don’t they - whether making them, or watching them, or both?

In that 2010 piece, I highlighted the Viscera Film Festival, which was hosting its first ever event that year, in Los Angeles, with some 35 horror short films screened - every single one of them directed by a woman filmmaker. However, in browsing the selections, I didn’t immediately recognize any of the directors listed as being of African descent, given this blog's interests. 

So I put out a call for black women directors of horror films, and I received 2 or 3 responses, which I highlighted in separate posts on the old S&A site.

Over 3 years later, with the site's readership now much larger than it was then (a year or so after its initial launch), I thought I'd revisit that inquiry, hoping that I'll receive even more responses than I did back then.

As I said earlier, this was prompted by American Film Market news announced yesterday that a “landmark all-female horror anthology” film is in the works, with each segment featuring a female director and female lead. Directors on board so far include the aforementioned Jennifer Lynch, as well as Mary Harron, Karyn Kusama, The Soska Sisters, and Jovanka Vuckovic

I'm quite sure none of them is of African descent. Although if I'm wrong about that, someone will certainly correct me. 

MPI/Dark Sky Films and XYZ Films are all behind the project, with Todd Brown producing. 

“We know that women make up about half of the audience for horror films, and yet the female creative voice has been nearly silent in the horror genre,” said Greg Newman, Executive Vice President of Dark Sky Films parent company MPI Media Group. “So we are thrilled about the new and distinct approach that these talented directors will bring to the project.” 

Todd Brown added: “One of the givens of so many horror films has been the objectification of young women, and we thought it was time for a different approach to scaring audiences and letting the female voice be heard.”

It looks like the list of directors involved in this project isn't yet complete, so there's certainly a chance that a black woman director will be join effort. Who that might be, I can't say. Black women directors working within the industry aren't fully represented, let alone those that work specifically within a genre like horror. However, on the independent circuit, I'm sure there are several black women directors who would absolutely love to be given an opportunity like this one. 

But who?

So, I'm making the inquiry that I made in 2010, again: if you're a black woman director who has a horror film (or horror films) on her resume (whether shorts or features), or if horror is a genre in which you'd love to work, I'd love to know who you are, and check out your work, and maybe even highlight it here. After all, you never know who's reading. The producers of the above anthology just might be looking to diversify the project's list of directors, and they just might be looking here.

Email me at

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  • Hannah Neurotica | November 18, 2013 11:20 AMReply

    This is such an important conversation- thank you for writing this!

  • CK | November 12, 2013 10:06 PMReply

    I am a Black female director and writer. My latest short film is a horror. I wish I could meet more black female filmmakers.

  • nun | November 12, 2013 1:54 PMReply

    @Hahahater Absolutely, that's the reason. Black women couldn't possibly come up with something as brilliant and cutting edge as Saw III or Paranormal Activity IV. It couldn't be that horror is simply an inferior genre with piss-poor storylines and weak visual effects that caters to the white male gaze with rampant racist, heterosexist, cro-magnon undertones. And the overwhelming biases against black female filmmakers in Hollywood - irrelevant! The real reason there aren't more black women involved in the genre is because their tiny pea brains aren't creative enough to master blood and gore. You nailed it. That observation doesn't make you racist or sexist though; you're simply saying that black women are inferior because of their race and sex. Bravo.

  • nun | November 13, 2013 5:25 PM

    Right, because name calling is always the best way to handle things.

  • Um No | November 13, 2013 4:47 PM

    Agreeing with truth. Nun sounds like a fool.

  • nun | November 13, 2013 5:02 AM

    Not mad at all or a black woman, but maybe the rest of us coloreds are too dense to grasp it as well. Your failure to correctly place an apostrophe, or tell singular from plural, is an obvious mark of your brilliance. And the name calling - so clever! Too much genius to take.

  • truth | November 13, 2013 2:31 AM

    Its seems it's too complicated for black women to master. So now you mad at the whole genre? Your an idiot.

  • nun | November 13, 2013 1:39 AM

    @truth You're totally right. Making a lot of money does make it a great genre, no matter how awful the movies are. Two geniuses!

  • truth | November 13, 2013 12:21 AM

    The horror genre is an international billion dollar money maker you silly trick. Sit down, no one cares about your "tantrum."

  • HAHAHATER | November 12, 2013 1:24 PMReply

    Do black women, or women in general, have the imagination and skill to tell stories in the horror genre? Not many. I would dare to day, none. They can make them, but I doubt whether they'll be any good.

  • scripttease | November 16, 2013 10:50 PM

    Mine will be a good one, and starring an all Black cast with a couple of White folks talking slang and hip-hop... You know how they do. But all BS aside, I have plans to write one, and I have my logline, but no title as of yet. Still have to get at least a pinky toe in the door.

  • Miles Ellison | November 13, 2013 12:08 AM

    The majority of horror movies made by white men aren't any good. Black women couldn't possibly do any worse.

  • Mark & Darla | November 12, 2013 11:03 PM

    Horror movies today are ‘slash & burn’ ‘gore & blood’, mindless simpleton movies.

    Doesn’t take much imagination to direct a white girl running and screaming through the wood distress, she trips over foot falls backward in a pile of leaves screaming some more while a crazy white dude in a mask stands over her with an axe or saw.

    I can direct that with a tinker toy view master.

  • critical acclaim | November 12, 2013 4:36 PM

    no one's falling for this silly bait.

  • BJ Rouse | November 12, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    One of my friends and fellow filmmakers, Marquette Jones, hit me up this morning and told me to check out this article. I'm BJ Rouse, and I am an African-American female director/producer of the horror/thriller genre. The short that I directed, "Are You Looking" is actually a short of the feature "Don't Look" both written by Gwendolyn Womack, that we are hoping to use to gain interest and financing for the feature length film. Thanks for the article. We are here.

  • Laura | November 12, 2013 11:42 AMReply

    I will be on that list very soon.

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