A still from “Fire Girls” Image courtesy of Chell Stephen

Fem.Cine.Anarchy.

Now there’s the name of a Portland movie event any self-respecting film fanatic can get behind.

The brainchild of University of Southern Maine film faculty member and longtime Maine filmmaker Kate Kaminski, Fem.Cine.Anarchy, taking place Thursday at Portland’s Slab restaurant, is a female-focused night of short-form cinematic exploration, a showcase for female moviemakers from around the world and, as Kaminski says, a whole lot of fun.

“The awesome thing about this show,” Kaminski said, “is that, if 10 people show up, that’s great. If 40 people show up, wonderful. If three people show up, well, here we are watching some movies, so that’s great, too.”

She’s being humble, as Fem.Cine.Anarchy has proven a reliable draw for Maine film fans in its five years of existence. Originally growing out of submissions to Kaminski’s late, lamented, Bechdel-tested Bluestocking Film Series (which ended last year after eight thought-provoking seasons), Fem.Cine.Anarchy continues Kaminski’s mission to promote and elevate the films of those traditionally (and stubbornly) excluded from the industry.

“We got a lot of #MeToo-themed submissions to the last Bluestocking, whereas, for this year’s program, we saw a lot of revenge themes from women. I haven’t the faintest idea why.” That’s Kaminski being funny, as Fem.Cine.Anarchy is, as ever, a place where female filmmakers can truly let loose with cinematic visions as varied, eclectic and outrageous as they are. “I still want to continue to push the idea that it’s OK for women to have their own room,” Kaminski explained, adding, “Men can come in, but we have our own room.”

That room (actually Slab’s spacious outdoor patio) will ring with the cinematic voices of nine female filmmakers, whose short films run the gamut this year from animation to horror to drama to one film that, Kaminski says, “will sear your eyeballs – it will (expletive) you up.” That’s Spanish director Carlota Pereda’s “Cerdita” (“Piggy”), about a bullied overweight girl whose actions involve, as Kaminski says, “a twist that’s both inevitable and shocking.”

Kaminski’s also particularly excited for people to experience New York director Christina Raia’s “The Gaze,” which, she says, “is a really cool mash-up of, like, five different sub-genres of horror,” all in the film’s trim eight minutes. Says Kaminski admiringly: “It works because she’s just a really good short filmmaker.” She’s also thrilled to have the event’s first-ever Russian entry, a world premiere from director Diana Belova called “Spaced,” about a life-changing bar bet, and USM alum Chell Stephen’s “Fire girls.” “She’s on her way up,” Kaminski said of her former student.

As ever, Fem.Cine.Anarchy is a challenging, exciting, and illuminating short-film fun box, with something for everybody. Well, most everybody, as the event is, as usual, an adults-only celebration of women’s cinematic expression. Said Kaminski proudly: “That’s just another part of the anarchy.”

Shaking things up remains Kaminski’s métier, both as co-founder of Portland’s Gitgo Productions and in her work teaching film. “I was doing research for my classes and, as far as how we (women) are doing in the industry, a lot of things have just not (expletive) changed at all,” she said. “It’s something that needs to be highlighted because it’s not a given that every other film at Maine International Film Festival will be by a woman or have female protagonists. And that crosses over to any gender, race, sexuality – it’s about wanting a different kind of cinema, and cinema industry. We care about these things.”

Femme.Cine.Anarchy will take place outside on the patio at Slab, 25 Preble St. in Portland, on Thursday. The show, as always, is free and starts at 7 p.m. (There’s a rain date of Wednesday, Sept. 25, but here’s hoping this year’s exhibition of truly exciting, woman-led movie magic comes off without a hitch.) To reserve your free tickets, go to sites.google.com/view/fem-cine-anarchy.

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

A still from “Panic Attack!” Image courtesy of Eileen O’Meara

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