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Women to watch: Getting to know up-and-coming genre filmmakers Vera Miao and Nicole Delaney

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With the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in full swing, a new slew of budding filmmakers and exceptional films are being showcased in New York City for all to see. Over the years, during this highly regarded film festival, careers have been made, dreams have been surpassed, and new talent has been discovered.  Well, this year is no exception.

In the first annual, special screening program, OUT OF THIS WORLD: FEMALE FILMMAKERS IN GENRE, three films, which represent the very best in online film making, will be screened, for one night only on Saturday, April 29 at 6pm. Each piece of work is a unique interpretation of genre film making told through the perspective of three exceptional women.  

The tension-soaked PINEAPPLE, written and directed by Arkasha Stevenson takes a single word and creates a web-series surrounding the assault of a coal miners daughter; Vera Miao offers up TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES: MA, which dissects the intense relationship between an overbearing mother and her live-in daughter; and the world premier of YOYO, Nicole Delaney’s dark-comedy about the end of the world and a young girl dealing with the annoyance of still being a virgin.

Miao, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, is no stranger to the festival circuit. In 2013 her first feature film BEST FRIENDS FOREVER premiered at Slamdance and in 2015 was a part of the Sundance Institute/Women in Film Financing. Delaney, a graduate from Columbia University’s MFA Film program, has been making moves in the entertainment industry for some time now. After working at Flower Films and Paramount Pictures, Delaney moved onto writing for the TV series SEARCH PARTY as well as developing an animated, sci-fi series. FANGORIA was lucky enough to catch up with Delaney and Miao between crazy schedules and the excitement of their Tribeca premiers.

Photo Credit: Stage 13



FANGORIA:  So, how does it feel having your film selected to be shown at such a highly regarded film festival?

NICOLE DELANEY: I’ve been a fan of Tribeca since I can remember; it’s a dream to be a part of this festival and screening amongst some of my all-time favorites.

VERA MIAO: I’m thrilled, especially because I’m a New Yorker now living the Los Angeles life, so to get to premiere this series in my hometown, among my family and friends. It’s a dream come true. It’s also support that they support my belief that horror is an art form, like everything else, even though it can sometimes be dismissed as something less. Tribeca has been super supportive of me and my work. Plus, It’s run by a bunch of strong women I admire, so it’s great.

 

FANGORIA: What led you to pursue a career in film making?

VERA MIAO: Stories have always been the third parent in my life. I was a nerdy bookworm who haunted the library as a small child, reading every book I could get my hands on. Stephen King’s IT changed my life at the age of 13. And always, always, there were movies and TV. I rented Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS from the library when I was 14, and my mind was blown. That might have been the beginning. (Support public libraries!) So, a career in film making is just an ecstatic continuation of being a lifelong fan.  As an avid film lover who never saw myself – Chinese, working class, child of immigrants, female – reflected in the stuff I watched, I wanted to play a small part in changing that. That feels really important and it’s a purpose that animates me beyond my deep love of film.

NICOLE DELANEY: I was 8 years old and my mom took me to see JURASSIC PARK four times. The film evoked such intense emotions and I knew I wanted to give audiences the same transformative experience.

 

FANGORIA: Why is having a woman’s voice in genre films, specifically horror, so important?

VERA MIAO: I can’t imagine even a semi-persuasive argument the other way, so I’m always a little confused by that question. What’s the downside? It’s simply imperative that women, and people of color, have voices in everything. It feels really basic, like fundamental building blocks to the big stuff – humanity, society, dignity, fairness, empathy, history, future – and to the smaller stuff – good storytelling, fresh perspectives, compelling ideas, and exciting voices. 

NICOLE DELANEY: I think we aren’t accustomed to seeing genre films through the female lens, and horror specifically deals with tropes that haven’t necessarily been fair to women. Reclaiming these genres from the male gaze is crucial for genre films to flourish, and for their stories to be new, poignant and multi-dimensional.

 

FANGORIA: Is there a specific film or filmmaker within the genre who has inspired you? 

NICOLE DELANEY: I’d have to say Ana Lily Amirpour who made A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT. It was edgy, different, clean, quiet, and above all else I was completely frightened. Everything from the black and white shooting style, to Sheila’s monochrome wardrobe felt earned and so well executed.

VERA MIAO: So many! Some of my all time favorites include THE ORPHANAGE, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, ALIEN, ALIENS,  and at the risk of being a bad feminist, Polanski’s films, especially REPULSION and ROSEMARY’S BABY. And mad props to THE THING and THE DESCENT. DUMPLINGS just tickles the hell out of me, and deep respect to GET OUT.

 

FANGORIA: What do you believe it takes to scare an audience?

NICOLE DELANEY: I think you have to make the fear as real as possible. To me, nothing is scarier than if something could really happen in the audience’s life, thereby turning their reality into a living nightmare. 

VERA MIAO: I only know what scares me. Gore repulses, but that’s not the same and I’m personally not that interested. Jump scares give you instant gratification, but I’m more interested in the stuff that lingers. Death and abandonment, being alone in the literal and metaphorical dark, the human capacity for cruelty, being helpless; those things scare the shit out of me.


Immediately following the screening of PINEAPPLE, TWO SENTENCE HORROR STORIES: MA, and YOYO, each filmmaker will be a part of a Q&A with the audience. This interactive and informative sit down will be hosted by Cristina Cacioppo from Alamo Drafthouse.
For tickets and more information of the filmmakers and their films, click HERE!

About the author
Adam Lee Price
Adam Lee Price has an intense love of horror films and has since being a child. This love of horror has led him to focus on a career in writing films for the next generation of genre fans. Adam has recently completed writing his first feature length horror screenplay entitled THE MASQUERADE. Now, he looks forward to the next chapter of his life working alongside great writers in the horror industry and at FANGORIA Magazine.
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