Direct her: Festival highlights female filmmakers

Trio of terror: Eileen O’Meara fears getting locked up with members of the Manson Family in her short film “Panic Attack!,” screening on April 6 at the Women’s Film Festival at St. Francis College.
Eileen O’Meara

Call it the Attack of the 50 Film Women!

A short cartoon about serial killers, the Devil, and traffic jams will screen as part of 50 female-made movies at the three-day Women’s Film Festival, starting at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights on April 4. “Panic Attack!” is a comedic take on the way that women’s fears and frustrations often persist even after being ignored, according to its creator.

“I think women have a tendency to stuff down things that are driving them insane and making them furious,” said Eileen O’Meara, who lives in the distant land of Los Angeles. “Men are more allowed to be angry, but culturally we’re supposed to shove stuff down more, and maybe it does come out in anxiety [for women].”

O’Meara drew, animated, and voiced the three-minute film, which follows a woman on her morning drive as her routine worries (“You’re going to be late!”) escalate to more dire predictions (“Did you leave the coffee on? You better turn around or the house will catch on fire!”). The artist said that the animated short was an effort to put her own constant stressors to artistic use.

“I was so overwhelmed with anxious thoughts myself, I was trying to figure out a way to make it a constructive part of my life,” she said. “Part of me was trying to turn the tables on the stuff that was torturing me.”

The free, fourth annual festival — which runs from April 4–6 — will offer women filmmakers a chance to connect with each other and their audience — a rare opportunity, since female movie-makers were excluded from such spaces for so long, according to the event’s director.

“All film festivals for the first 100 years or so were men’s film festivals,” said Fort Greene resident Augusta Palmer, who teaches communication arts at the school. “I think it’s still good to have some women-only spaces in terms of the production of the films.”

St. Francis students and faculty chose the 50 films from more than 200 submissions, according to Palmer. Festival highlights include the comedy “Heather Has Four Moms,” about a teenage girl whose four lesbian mothers oppose her losing her virginity with her boyfriend, and “The Trail,” a horror film about a biracial couple who get lost on a hike together. The fest will also include panels focusing on the business side of the industry, including discussions about crowd-funding and distributing films on April 4..

Women’s Film Festival at St. Francis College (180 Remsen St. between Clinton and Court streets in Brooklyn Heights, www.sfc.edu). April 4–6. “Panic Attack” on April 6 at 4 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Voices in her head: Filmmaker Eileen O’Meara channeled her fears into “Panic Attack!,” one of 50 films showing at the Women’s Film Festival at St. John’s College in Brooklyn Heights from April 4-6.
Tim Maloney

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