BY KAILEY TEDESCO
My fiancé is a Criterion Collection buff, and for the past few years he’s been working his way through autodidactic film school, one Blue Ray at a time. Inspired by his dedication, I started to pick some heavily acclaimed and remotely known films of my own, only to discover I definitely have a type. Since I was young, I’ve always fallen prey to a good execution of the Hero Cycle — I love a fantastical journey, a dynamic heroine, and an easily subverted plot line all too much. I even named my black tabby Coraline after the popular Gaiman novella.
As I’ve gotten older and more analytical of the art I consume, I started to notice patterns in the fantasy films I love, especially those that involve young female protagonists (my faves!). The universal cinematic representation of girlhood (when it is done justice) often shows young women negotiating their identities on the threshold of "womanhood" (just after their first menstrual cycles, sexual experiences, trauma, etc.) They must navigate their place in a family structure/society that wants to make them into an archetype (à la Snow White or Red Riding Hood). Only of course such a place doesn’t exist. Thus, these films below present young women creating an alternative reality to the limited structures or paths enforced upon them. These protagonists often find themselves willingly entering a rabbit hole, so to speak, to freely explore the nuances of their selves. Through magics within the self, these protagonists return to the familiar world ready to assert their narrative.
These films are existential, empowering, surreal, and wildly beautiful. And, the great news is many of them are available for free on Netflix, Youtube, or Hulu right now!
1. Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970 - Jaromile Jires - Czechoslovakia)
“And yet I feel so sad for some reason.”
2. Picnic at Hanging Rock ( 1975 - Peter Weir - Australia)
“Everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place.”
3. House (1977 - Nobuhiko Obayashi - Japan)
“She eats unmarried young girls. It’s the only time she can wear her wedding gown.”
4. Phenomena or Creepers (1985 - Dario Argento - Italy)
“I am sleepwalking. I must wake up.”
5. ALICE (1988 - Directed by Jan Svankmajer/Czechoslovakia)
“I’m not sorry for anything.”
6. Ginger Snaps - (2000 - John Fawcett - Canada)
“I get this ache and I thought it was for sex, but it’s to tear everything to fucking pieces.”
7. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 - Guillermo del Torro - Spain & Mexico)
“You are not born of man. It was the moon that bore you.”
8. Girl Asleep (2015 - Rosemary Meyers - Australia)
“They were not the beautiful song, the one I remember from my youth, full of promise and love.”
Kailey Tedesco (STAFF WRITER) is the author of These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) and the forthcoming full-length collection, She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications). She is the co-founding editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a member of the Poetry Brothel. She received her MFA in creative writing from Arcadia University, and she now teaches literature at several local colleges.
Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her work in Prelude, Bellevue Literary Review, Sugar House Review, Poetry Quarterly, Hello Giggles, UltraCulture, and more. For more information, please visit kaileytedesco.com.