This Friday, something special is happening in downtown Kitchener: Drunk Feminist Films (DFF) is hosting a screening of Twilight at the Apollo Cinema.
More than a mere screening of the classic Team Edward-Team Jacob showdown of intense teenage love, the gals behind Drunk Feminist Films are bringing their playful, feminist drinking game to KW. While the film plays, the audience participates in active group commentary that promises to be raucous and fun.
This is DFF’s first foray into KW, but they are confident their successful blend of sass and lively discussion on the politics of gender inequity in modern film, and pop culture in general, will be an informative and amusing night out. The brains behind this event explain they’d rather laugh than cry their way through representations of gender in Hollywood films.
Building off their growing YouTube following, I chatted with DFF’s Steph Guthrie about how the concept came to be, why this kind of event is important and what to expect when you arrive at the Apollo this Friday for DFF’s showing of Twilight. You know you want to be there.
Who are you? You live in Toronto so what made you think about bringing your event to Kitchener Waterloo?
Drunk Feminist Films has been producing events in Toronto since 2013, and this year we found our Toronto home at the Revue Cinema in the west end. Through our friends at the Revue, we connected with the guys who run the Apollo Cinema in Kitchener, and they loved what we were doing and wanted to bring us to town. We had been looking for an opportunity to take our show on the road, and KW is really the perfect place – it’s a region brimming with creative energy and lots of students, which is a really great fit with our vibe. So it was a win-win!
How did the idea of Drunk Feminist Films come about? How many have you done in Toronto?
So far we’ve done seven screenings in Toronto: the first three in a variety of community spaces (in one case, the back of a sushi restaurant!), and four with the Revue in 2015. We’re excited to screen Twilight, since that’s where DFF started. Gillian wrote a drinking game to go along with this horrible movie, and invited Shaunna, Amy and Steph to her place. We found we had a lot to say about it, and doing so together in the spirit of fun was a lot more palatable and less exhausting than getting angry about it. DFF was born out of the idea that getting a group of feminist folk together to rag on damaging Hollywood tropes and representations (or lack thereof) could be a great outlet. Burn off some steam, laugh your face off and relax together.
How do you choose your movies?
Our movie choices are the balance between what people are interested in watching and what we can obtain rights to screen. Popular movies are more interesting, because they are a part of our lives already. It’s so interesting to take a deeper look at some films that have become cultural institutions. You see the ways they let you down, and the ways they pleasantly surprise you. Themes of women and agency are popular: Women are so frequently and routinely stripped of basic decision making in films. Race is a big one as well. It’s not news that white people dominate Hollywood movies – if we drank for every racialized person in a speaking role, we’d never get drunk. That’s sad on many levels.
Do you dislike the movies you screen or do you just think they are worthy of looking at them through a feminist filter?
As long as the movie gives us something to talk about in terms of gender and other aspects of identity, it’s fair game! For instance, we’ve done screenings of movies like Clueless, featuring positive and complex portrayals of women and female friendships. We’ve also done screenings of movies like 50 Shades of Grey, which, ‘nuff said. Even though the audiences’ feelings about these two movies were very different, the screenings shared a strong vibe of camaraderie: a sense that we were all creating our experience of this movie together, which is a really magical feeling!
What should a person expect at the event?
Lots of energy, lots of snark, and lots of camaraderie! We’ll open the event with each of the co-hosts offering their take on the movie from a feminist perspective, then we introduce the rules for the game. Audience members can play the game by taking a drink or using one of our party noisemakers every time a certain narrative or thematic trope comes up during the movie (e.g. whenever Edward exhibits stalker-like tendencies toward Bella). One really cool thing we’ve noticed is that lots of people make the events into a “friends night out” and bring a crew of their best pals. This makes our feminist hearts swell to epic proportions!
What value does interactive audience commentary during the film add to the event?
There are so many frustrating, enraging, and triggering themes, characters and ideas in Hollywood movies – and once you see them, you can’t unsee them. It can make movie watching really challenging. Sharing that challenge with a whole theatre that is shouting at the screen together? That’s really, really fun. The interactive, humour-driven way that we invite audience participation allows attendees to air their grievances about pop culture in a space where everyone else will cheer them on, laugh along and join in, instead of branding them a Debbie Downer for caring about social justice and speaking up.
Does the Drunk part come into play because the theatres you choose serve alcohol?
The “Drunk” part is more to express how our events can act as a release valve where we sublimate our frustrations into fun with fellow feminists. Drinking is optional, the heart of the idea is silliness and fun, which is why we include call outs and actions (like swinging tampons or using party noisemakers) when the game rules demand action. It’s about participation in any way viewers are comfortable. Plus “Drunk Feminist Films” quickly communicates that this is not a serious event of any kind.
Get your tickets for Friday, October 23 (9:15pm showing) online. And keep on top of the DFF’s activities on Twitter – they have lots of good stuff in the works. See you there.