As much as I love features, there’s something about a well-done short horror film that hits the spot just right. Maybe it’s because, as a small-statured person, I have a particular fondness for other things that come in small packages—sewing kits, the limited edition travel-sized essentials kit from Glossier, and of course, short stories and films. 

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival, a festival held to recognize and celebrate filmmakers who are women and nonbinary, had a few different short film blocks dedicated to a variety of themes. One of these themes was global folk tales. The folk tales block consisted of the following entries: 

Drum Wave
Written and directed by Natalie Erika James

The Boogeywoman
Written and directed by Erica Scoggins

The Doula
Directed by Sarah Welsh Elliot and co-written by James Lainer Elliot

Always Going Never Gone
Written and directed by Wanda Nolan

Hunting Season
Written by Hannah Levien and directed by Shannon Kohli

Xiomara
Directed by Loëlle Monsanto

Vinegar Baths
Written and directed by Amanda Nell Eu

There was not a weak entry in the bunch. In fact, each film was spectacular in its own way. 

The Folk Tales short film block introduces audiences to various monsters and creatures. Creatures like the Boogeywoman, unicorns, and banshees. Monsters like the Malaysian Penanggalan and the Caribbean Asema. We get a look at bizarre fertility rituals—and fertility takeovers. 

Some films were in English. Others were not. All were well-written and exquisitely shot. With each entry, the viewer comes away feeling chilled, horrified, disturbed, and intrigued enough to research the folk tales that were explored in the films. 

Watching these films felt like a master class in visual storytelling. All of the directors created each frame and made each shot with a level of care, deliberateness, and sensitivity that I rarely see in mainstream features, let alone short films. It would be an exercise of futility to try to choose a favorite entry from this selection; I loved them all and will be screening them again for my friends.

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