Australia’s first all-female horror anthology releases on all major digital platforms across the UK and Australia on 25 January 2021. DARK WHISPERS (Vol 1) consists of ten chapters by female directors from across Australia, brought together by Sydney based production company Hemlock & Cedar Films with a wraparound story written and directed by the anthology creator Megan Riakos (Crushed, Deadhouse Dark).
Amongst the cast of DARK WHISPERS (Vol 1) is Asher Keddie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) who is terrorised by a stalker in the chapter ‘The Intruder’ as well as Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) who feature in the segment ‘The Ride’, a darkly comic thriller which was backed by the BBC. In the wrap-around segment, shot by Justine Kerrigan (All About E, Enter the Wild), Andrea Demetriades (Babyteeth, Reckoning, The End) plays Clara, who is obsessed with her late mother’s cherished Book of Dark Whispers.
Inspired by her experiences as a genre filmmaker who had benefited from the support of a close-knit group of female colleagues, Riakos conceived of a project that would amplify female voices in this space. She teamed up with fellow producer Leonie Marsh (co-producer of Kick Ass 2), associate producer Briony Kidd (founder of the acclaimed Stranger With My Face International Film Festival) and executive producer Enzo Tedeschi (A Night of Horror Vol.1, The Tunnel & Event Zero).
They launched an Australia-wide call out for submissions and received a range of exciting short films from almost every state and territory, proving that contrary to popular assumption, there is no shortage of female talent in dark genre.
Vol 1 Synopsis
When Clara discovers her deceased mother’s ‘Book of Dark Whispers’, she can’t stop reading the strange stories within its mystical pages. Each weird tale reveals a new facet of the twisted human psyche… or the not-so-human.
From the horror of grief to a sharehouse living disaster, from existential dread to right- swiping vampires, there is something for all tastes, as long as those tastes are twisted!
The final films selected for the anthology were directed by Angie Black, Briony Kidd, Isabel Peppard, Janine Hewitt, Jub Clerc, Kaitlin Tinker, Katrina Irawati Graham, Lucy Gouldthorpe, Madeleine Purdy and Marion Pilowsky.
Producer Megan Riakos, who is also the co-founder of the influential Women in FilmTelevision (WIFT) Australia, said, “It was incredible to witness the fresh and unique expressions of horror coming from women across Australia. What I love most about this collection is that it dispels the myth that there is just one kind of ‘women’s horror’ by showcasing 11 very different perspectives. These are all stories told through the female gaze but in terms of tone, subgenre and style there is a great diversity. All the filmmakers included also have something to say and a bold and original way of getting their point across.”
Producer Leonie Marsh, who is also founder of Australia’s female producers collective Screen Vixens, explains how she joined the team. “Megan and I met through our shared work on gender advocacy. It has been a great pleasure to finally work together on a creative project that elevates women in a genre and an industry that is so male dominated. In this project the art itself is advocacy.”
Associate producer Briony Kidd brought her experience running festivals and nurturing the growth of filmmaking communities to the collaboration. “This anthology builds on relationships formed at the Stranger With My Face International Film Festival, as well as continuing to bring the work of under-appreciated filmmakers to broader audiences. Megan and I share a belief that there is a lot of untapped potential in the Australian genre scene, in part due to limiting beliefs about what a ‘horror filmmaker’ looks like and the sort of stories that audiences in this scene will embrace.”
As the co-creator of A Night of Horror – Vol 1, which was also a curated anthology, executive producer Enzo Tedeschi lent considerable knowledge as well as his post-house Deadhouse Films to the project. “When Megan approached me to come on board, I recognised that we shared the same drive, spirit of innovation and hunger to create. Independent filmmaking is a tough game and I wanted to support Dark Whispers and do my part to help bring more of the attention to these talented directors that they are due.”
DARK WHISPERS (Vol 1) was selected for festivals across the world including at Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Berlin Final Girls Film Festival, Gold Coast Film Festival, Cinefest Oz and Monster Fest before being acquired by international sales agent and UK distributor Evolutionary Films. Last November, SP Releasing snagged the North American rights at the American Film Market and will announce launch dates later this year.
Evolutionary Film’s managing director, Diane Shorthouse, added, “We’re very excited to be bringing this well-crafted anthology of psychological, quirky and sinister stories from 11 exciting female filmmakers to audiences in the UK and Australia! We look forward to further haunting tales in volume two!”
Running time: 100 Minutes
Certificate: 15 (UK), M (Australia)
Language: English with one segment in Bahasa Indonesian Release details: https://www.darkwhispersanthology.com/watch
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