Females bring the funny at the Broad Humor Film Festival
By Michael Aushenker
There’s a persistent stereotype that, taken on the whole, men just tend to be funnier than women. (As Christopher Hitchens wrote for Vanity Fair, due to the many shortcomings of men “they damn well better be.”)
Susan diRende, however, is out to set the record straight.
She’s the founder of the Broad Humor Film Festival, which spotlights two feature films and 29 shorts from Friday to Sunday at the Electric Lodge in Venice.
What triggered diRende to launch the Broad Humor Film Festival, held at the Electric Lodge since its 2006 inception, was a Writer’s Guild comedy screenwriting contest in which, to her horror, “not a single woman made it to the finals. I thought, ‘Maybe they do need other opportunities.’”
This year’s festival, which also includes a screenwriting lab on Sunday, covers all comedic flavors, from dark to satirical to dramedy. Films include Annabelle Attanasio’s “Anchovies,” in which protagonist Micah attempts to conquer his phobias —confined spaces, germs and women— inside a dive bar; Mathilde Dratwa’s “Escape From Garden Grove,” which has a teenager rescuing her grandmother from a nursing home; and Ryan Lynch’s “SanFranLand, Episodes 1.1 – 1.3,” in which Bobbi leaves her Georgia town to join her best friends in San Francisco.
Some of the submissions came from outside the United States. Directed by Romania’s Cristina Iacob, “#selfie” chronicles the escapades of three students who skip studying for finals in favor of a seaside adventure. Italian entry “The Date,” by Gianpiero Alicchio, explores the aftermath of a double date. Singapore filmmaker Marrie Lee made “Rojak, the day when TV went insane,” in which a freak storm damages a television station’s broadcasting satellite and conflates six channels into one. Two Canadian entries — Karla Monterrosa’s “Unfortunately” and Andrea Beca’s “Flat Life” — depict young women going through major life changes.
Across nine years, diRende has “read every screenplay and seen every film.” As a result, she said, “I can’t watch Hollywood movies anymore.”
Female screenwriters, diRende believes, tend to dismiss the Aristotelian model of story structure.
“It’s not that Hollywood is wrong, it’s just that they’re just using the one model,” she said. “There’s a lot of tension and release all across the films; there’s not just one big climax at the end. Women’s comedy is more like multiple orgasms.”
The Broad Humor Film Festival runs Friday through Sunday at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. Tickets are $12. For a complete schedule, visit broadhumor.com.