Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Femme-sploitation at the Badass Wymynz Grindhouse Triple Feature

Posted By on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 12:59 PM

Sex! Brains! Action! Vegan food!
  • Sex! Brains! Action! Vegan food!

This Thurs., Nov. 10, the Phillip Rush Center will transform into a grindhouse theater screening three, female-centric exploitation films, including Friday Foster, a 1970’s blaxploitation film starring Pam Grier; Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay, a French erotic film; and Chocolate, a Thai martial arts film.

Presented by Georgia State University’s undergraduate student organization Faces of Feminism and Automatic Slim Productions (which is one part local musician and writer Ian Deaton, and one part local artist Becky Furey of art collective the Plastic Aztecs) organized the event with the purpose of entertaining, titillating the senses and stimulating the mind.

Sitting on the floor of their wood-paneled Cabbagetown living room, adjacent to stacked rows of VHS tapes and DVDs, Deaton, Furey and FOF president Amanda Mills spoke with CL about what influenced the creation of the event, Badass Wymynz Grindhouse Triple Feature.

What inspired you guys to throw this event?

AM: The lack of it in the area …

BF: And the challenge of picking out movies that could be shown at the grindhouse that could be equalizing. All the movies star women, but it’s not the center — it’s not the reason they were made. They’re just tight movies, that star women. Ian and I watched a shitload of movies that almost made the cut..

ID: The main character in Chocolate is disabled — she’s autistic, but also her [queer] sexuality is never divulged.

How many movies did you watch before narrowing it down to these three?

BF: About 40.

Of those 40, why these? Did you have any criteria?

ID: These were the most entertaining ones that we could find.

BF: There were a lot of movies that were just boring. They couldn’t be rapey. And we wanted a broad range of race, too. That was really important. It couldn’t be films all starring white girls.

ID: We wanted to have a mixed bag of a bunch of different cultures. Basically we just wanted to show three really entertaining genre movies that, the people who go there and just want to get drunk and have fun, they’re going to enjoy them, too; that they’re not going to be hit over the head with politics, but the people who are there to look for that or examine it, they’re going to be stimulated too, and they’re also going to have a good time watching these films. We wanted to try to get three movies that were fun and exciting and had a lot of grimy, B movie elements to them, but also on top of that, we didn’t want to show any bummer movies. We wanted to show movies that, for lack of a better term, kicked ass. For example, in Chocolate, there is some incredible fight choreography, and that was the first time I had seen a film with a Thai woman doing insane stunts, and, it’s all her. It’s not a stunt double. She is a martial arts champion.

BF: And the villains in that movie are so interesting.

ID: Yeah, there’s a gang of trans women in Chocolate that are not used as comic relief, which is typically done in a lot of genre films. They’re just characters in the movies. They’re all gangsters. They’re part of the Thai mafia, but nobody makes light of the fact that they’re trans.

BF: It’s not even brought up. It just is. It’s so tight.

You guys also added the element where, in between the movies, there’s the discussion. Why did you decide to do that?

AM: There’s a lounge attached to the screening room, and Faces of Feminism, our whole mission is to facilitate discussion, and that includes the different panels we have and presentations and also we have film screenings all the time, so that’s just one aspect. Like Ian brought up, it is entertaining, and that’s OK. I think that’s an added bonus. Things that we want to talk about don’t have to by high and heady and academic and alienating. I don’t think they have to be contained within a certain space. That people can go home and be like, “Damn, that movie was rad,” or “This kind of bothered me.” The screening is such an extensive amount of time — it’s at 7:30 p.m. when doors are until 2:30 a.m. — if people want to take breaks and be like, “Can you believe this one scene?!,” we’re allowing for that. We’re not expecting the audience to just sit there rigid in their seats. If you want to step out and talk or take a break, we welcome a fluid involvement.

Why the Phillip Rush Center?

AM: They have a lot of offices. The have the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, Georgia Equality, and I believe some spouse abuse counseling, but also they’re incredibly queer-oriented. And space wise, it’s a really neat space.

In terms of genre, why exploitation films as opposed to another genre for the screening?

ID: Grindhouses were these places where their main goal was money. They didn’t care what they were showing. They would show porno, because it did well, they would show kung fu films, zombie movies. Anything where they could get butts in seats for the longest amount of time, so that’s why they would show double and triple features, to charge more money, basically.

We’re trying to co-opt that idea, and entertain people; bring them out with a titillating subject matter, but at the same time we want them to have a good time, but at the same time you’re going to be thinking about different social and political aspects, if you’re there to see that kind of stuff. We just want people to have a good time, but also think, because we’re not showing a bunch of white dudes blowing people away with shotguns.

BF: It’d be neat even if they didn’t even think about it like that. If they walked and were like, “Those movies were tight,” our job is done.

ID: I think also the idea of exciting nightlife used to be in Atlanta. I like the idea that in the middle of the night — I don’t know about other people, but I’m a creative person, and that typically means that I keep very bizarre hours and most of my friends do too — and, in Atlanta specifically, we want to add to that. I like the idea of there being different places at night in Atlanta where you can go do things for people who are not normal and keep really bizarre hours. That’s another facet of it, basically. It’s just sad that only places like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have [late-night] places, besides restaurants.

In the end, we’re just interested in doing things like that, where it’s got these political elements for people who are looking for that kind of shit, but for people who just want to have a good time and party, they can still do that, but at the same time we might make them think.

I showed Chocolate to my 6-year-old nephew and he was like, “Oh my god, girls can kick butt, too?” And I was like, “Yeah, of course they can,” and he got so excited he was like, “Yeah!’”

Badass Wymynz Grindhouse Triple Feature. Thur., Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. $5 suggested donation. Phillip Rush Center, 1530 Dekalb Ave.

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