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  • Writer's pictureKelly M. Hudson

Etheria Rocks!

The Etheria Film Festival is a respected and beloved showcase for female creators to display their short films and usually takes place in Hollywood at the Egyptian Theatre and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica every summer. This year the live showings were squashed because of the Covid-19 crisis, so the good folks at Shudder are streaming the entire collection of nine shorts on their platform, combining them into one viewing experience so that it plays like a long anthology film. The genres range from Horror, Thriller, Action, Fantasy, Sci-fi, with much Comedy mixed in. All nine films are directed by women and all are unique and different from one another.

These include:

Waffle by Carlyn Hudson

Maggie May by Mia’Kate Russell

The Conversion Therapist by Bears Rebecca Fonte

Basic Witch by Yoko Okumura

Offbeat by Myrte Ouwerkert

Ava in the End by Ursula Ellis

Man in the Corner by Kelli Breslin

The Final Girl Returns by Alexandria Perez

All of the shorts are good to great, and most of them are concerned with social issues as well as feminist perspectives. Some are a bit didactic but that’s in the spirit of the short form and especially in the world of the old EC Comics. It’s safe to say that if you have any MAGA-hat wearing friends and family, they will be horrified by some of this content, but it’s also safe to say that all of these films need to be seen, not only for their relevancy, but for their raw, honest, unflinching storytelling and the pure talent on display here.

These films are no joke. Some are darkly funny (Maggie May), others are uncomfortably insightful (Basic Witch), and some are just plain terrifying (as in The Conversion Therapist, where Torture Porn is turned on its head). There are some sweet and sad moments (Ava in the End) and clever bits (The Final Girl Returns) as well. The films run the gamut, and the way they’re paced and laid out creates a smooth, indelible experience. Not one moment did my attention flag and not one single film failed to entertain me and make me think just a little bit. Some of the thrills are visceral, others cerebral, and some hit you right in heart. All in all, I have to say, if this was assembled into a single anthology film, with some kind of linking device at the beginning and end, it would rank in my top ten list of anthology flicks, easily.

This experience makes me sad that I don’t live in Southern California and get to see this festival once every year. I wish somehow events like this could be taken on the road (a good old-fashioned Roadshow!), with a stop in each state over the course of a summer. Films like these deserve the attention and the filmmakers deserve the exposure. Streaming them like this on Shudder hopefully gives them and the festival itself a bigger boost (and maybe this will lead to more streaming events like this in the future). These are films worthy of your time and love and if you can, seek this out. You won’t be disappointed.


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