Horror-heavy Scream Queen FilmFest Tokyo (SQFFT) is dedicated to showcasing and promoting feature-length and short-film genre works by women filmmakers from around the world. The 2016 edition kicks off on October 22 at Uplink Factory and runs through October 28. SQFFT director Mai Nakanishi has selected an outstanding lineup of offerings for this year’s festival.
SQFFT’s opening night film is writer/director Anna Biller’s The Love Witch, my personal front-runner for favorite film of 2016. The story concerns a young woman named Elaine (Samantha Robinson in a star-making performance) who uses witchcraft to try to find a man who truly loves her; unfortunately for her suitors, her attempts at finding love end with deadly results. This gorgeous-looking film, shot on 35mm, is rich with sumptuous set design, featuring props and costumes made by Biller, who also edited, wrote period music for, and produced the film. The Love Witch is a truly unique cinematic experience; you can read my Gruesome Magazine review here.
Indonesian effort Midnight Show is SQFFT’s special presentation. This full-length feature is from director Ginanti Rona, who had previously worked as assistant director on that country’s The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2, the “Safe Haven” segment of V/H/S 2, and Macabre. The film is about a masked serial killer who strikes during a midnight screening. Lead actor and producer Gandhi Fernando will make a guest appearance at the festival.
The festival’s short film program features seven offerings from around the globe. Rebekah Fieschi’s French/American coproduction Mauvaises Tetes (Bad Heads) is a black-and-white horror comedy that recalls the MGM and Universal fright classics of yesteryear with its tale of bartender Jenny’s (Alice Dessuant) unorthodox search for the man of her dreams (I reviewed it for “Super Scary Shorts Saturday” here). Director Prano Bailey-Bond’s UK short Nasty is a 1980s-set shocker that concerns a young boy’s search for his suddenly-missing father (reviewed here). The Puppet Man is writer/director Jacqueline Castel’s atmospheric American offering about a mysterious killer in a bar, awash with a strong sense of dread and offbeat performances (reviewed here).
Another American offering is writer/director Jeanne Jo’s Tampoon, which concerns the appearance of a possessed tampon in an unlucky-in-love woman’s life. Disco Inferno from director Alice Waddington is a Spanish short about a black-clad minion from Hell attempting to rescue her boss in a mansion filled with cultists. Writer/director Arkasha Stevenson’s American short Vessels concerns a young transgender woman considering a dangerous operation in an effort to gain a more feminine body. Fish Eye is a Chinese chiller from writer/director Tong Zhou about a young maid who discovers evidence that leads her to believe that her employer may be a serial killer.
SQFFT has been highlighting genre cinema from women filmmakers since 2013. Besides the main Tokyo festival, SQFFT also holds annual tour stops in Osaka and Nagoya (I reviewed several of the Nagoya tour stop shorts earlier this year for “Super Scary Shorts Saturday” and discussed that festival with host Doc Rotten on a special edition of Horror News Radio in April.) SQFFT also expands internationally for the first time this year with an October 28-30 run in Singapore.