Brodie Lancaster’s opening letter to her brilliant feminist film zine Filmme Fatales is a reminder of the undimmed psychological power of print. Brodie writes: ‘If I stopped making Filmme Fatales, I’d have more time, sure, but my frustration and feelings about the way in which women are represented on screen wouldn’t go away.’ With the lack of aspiring and inspiring female characters in Hollywood or in films in general, Filmme Fatales is an important voice and Brodie’s frustration is echoed by many cinema-goers. I wish that the electric blue and hot pink issue six of Filmme Fatales was handed out at the cinema exit every time I leave a blockbuster disappointed and grumbling to myself. It gets full-marks on the Bechdel Test.
When I first saw the zine, I was struck by the similarities between its imagery and Tavi Gevinson’s online magazine for teenage girls, Rookie. Because of this, I wasn’t surprised to see that Rookie contributor Minna Gilligan has submitted one of her fiery, jam-packed collages to the project (above); her lively and energetic work also suits the smart yet chatty tone of Filmme Fatales. There are more very distinct image-makers involved in the project: Mai Ly Degnan illustrations of different female American road narratives (see Thelma and Louise, above) are fun and gently whimsical, and Aimee Bee Brook’s notebook-like illustrations for a list of films dealing with heartbreak (below) continue the Rookie vibe.
Zines made by diehard fans – whether music or film or gaming – are usually filled with a lot of lists, and Filmme Fatales is no exception. More lists include one documenting favourite sad scenes from cinema; another is a hand-scrawled timeline lovingly detailing every single Diane Keaton film ever made (above). Unlike most zines, which are often a mismatch of differing aesthetics, Filmme Fatales has a distinct look that runs throughout the issues: blue or pink headlines in a funky, geometric typeface bind the stories together (below) and italics are rendered throughout in a satisfying reverse slant. The cohesion is important – it gives the publication an inner sense of strength, which resonates with the topic.
A bright electric blue background signals a change in content and pace half-way through the zine. Printed on the blue is a short story, and a lively Hattie Stewart headline adds another great image-maker to the mix (above). A photography spread by Ariel Katz is crisp and cinematic, and it’s partly inspired by the topics that weave through Miranda July’s work (below).
Other fun reads include: a tweet version of the movie Foxes, and a timeline of TV show Veronica Mars. There are also a couple of really thoughtful pieces that draw on film as a way of viewing and critiquing the status quo, like an article on women drinking in movies (decorated with some hand-drawn cocktails, above), which is particularly provocative.
A zine like Filmme Fatales doesn’t come along often – it’s both thoughtful and fun, it has a good eye for imagery and a considered design that shifts it beyond zine into magazine territory. I would have especially loved Filmme Fatales as a teenager when I was really getting into movies but found it difficult to find the kind of criticism and interpretation that I could actually relate to, and which made the movies I liked come alive even more.