INT: Izabel Grondin

The Arrow interviews Izabelle Grondin

The horror scene here in Montreal is a rough path to take. The powers that be want nothing to do with the genre and look down on it. But French Quebecer Izabel Grondin has been a potent horror trooper within these oppressive trenches. Since 1994 she has Directed over 10 horror shorts, won the Jury Prize at the SPASM Festival (among other prizes at different festivals) and had some of her fear films shown at the world renowned Fantasia Film Festival. Today she has a DVD compilation of her shorts being released and is finally aiming to tackle her first feature length flick. It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Izabel Grondin!

What’s your favourite horror movie hun?

It's impossible for me to name just one.  My all time favourites though are: Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971), Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975), Vampire Circus (Robert Young, 1971), The Whip and the Body (J. M. Old aka Mario Bava, 1963) and Island of the Death (Narcisco Ibanez, 1976).

What would you say was the initial spark that ignited your love for horror?

Many factors I would say: First my morbid imagination! I also grew up in small community within a mountain surrounding. The forest was all around us; it was my first taste of “atmosphere”. There was also a Dracula comic book that I bought when I was 9 years old and seeing Christopher Lee at that same age (it was love at first sight) marked me.  When I was a kid we only had one TV set which sported 3 channels. One of them ran a TV Show called “Cinema at 5 O Clock” which played a different film everyday at 17H00. Most of the time they played horror movies and I watched them all the time. Looking back, those moments were some of the best of my life.

Have you found it difficult to be taken seriously within the industry being that you are a woman and that you dabble within the horror genre in Quebec?

10 years ago yes it was very hard. The thing is, no matter the genre, making a film is a very physical job. So I guess that people tend to trust a man’s capacity more when it comes to getting the job done. I don’t have the time to change all of those notions so I deal with them by proving myself. I’m confident that after I shoot my first feature, it will then be easier to find producers to back the next ones.

What are your thoughts about the local horror scene here in Montreal, Canada?

We are going through a very important transition. The more important changes are: The increased popularity of the genre, the digital era and the up in airing possibilities. In 1993, when I was writing my first script, people would react strangely to me when I would express my love for horror movies. They looked at me like I was a freak!  In 1994, except for 3 or 4 people, I hadn’t heard of anybody in Quebec making horror films. 10 years later, hundreds of people want to make them. It is “in vogue”. Back then it was pretty hard to find a place to present your film. Big Quebec Film Festivals didn’t want them and festivals like Fantasia, SPASM, Vitesse-Lumière didn’t exist. That’s probably the more prominent change in terms of then and now.

When it comes to financial support from the big institutions on the other hand, I think it is ridiculous. It seems that the “cinema of entertainment” is an American business only. Thanks to the advent of digital, independent genre filmmakers are now more visible compared to 10 years ago. They don’t wait after the money anymore. I mean, what choice do you have when it’s your dream to make these films and the institutions won’t support you? If I would have waited for them, I would have done nothing thus far. We can’t get money from Sodec, Telefilm, CALQ?  Fine! Let’s make a film without them then! It much harder that way but that’s the fight you must be ready to entertain. Maybe somebody somewhere will wake up one day and realize the amazing potential the horror industry can have here in Quebec.

What is your point of view on sexism in horror today? Are we making some progress or what? COME ON!

Of course we’re making progress. The female isn’t the sole victim anymore. She’s also heroic, she’s fighting, shooting, she’s wise and more sexually aggressive. Having said that the connection between “female” and “victim” is still engraved strongly in our psyche. By default, a woman is more vulnerable physically than a man. And the old age horror and sex recipe still works to this day. Like it or not, that voyeuristic trait is part of us. We are by instincts animals and modernization will never change that.

How would you describe your horror shorts? Intellectual? Metaphorical? Party Horror?

Grondin’s horror.  (hehehehehe)

What do you aim for as an artist?

To pull the viewer into a strong atmospheric trance. I consider myself a purist when it comes to my work. Parody is not my thing. If one day a viewer tells me that he was scared during one of my films, that’s the best compliment he could ever give me, Creating fear is quite the challenge, specially these days where people are bombarded with shocking images and are disillusioned by society.  

All of your films have been shorts so far. When’s the feature coming?

I made these shorts to gain more experience and also because I can’t afford to finance a feature length film. But it is my next step; I feel the timing is right.

You have a DVD Compilation coming out with all of your shorts on them. What is it called and where can people get it?

Actually, there are only six of my short films on the DVD.  I didn’t think that the others, except for one, were too interesting. My biggest regret is that Sang Remords isn’t on the DVD. It was a very personal film and I kind of liked the result. The thing is that I was unable to afford a new master (my 16mm copy is in a very poor quality).

Anyhow, the original French title of the DVD is:  Folies Passagères, contes trash et sournois.   In English it’s called Temporary Madness. I’m still working the “distribution” angle for this DVD and for now a couple of video stores have it (and the list grows up every week).  To order one you can email me at [email protected]

What do you usually drink at your wrap parties?

Mostly beer but I had “Veuve Cliquot” a couple of times. My favourite is Champagne of course.

Still from "TERRORE"

I'd like to thank Izabel for checking into the site and for giving us a little slice of life when it comes to being a girl, in horror, in a Province that doesn't support the genre much. Quite the challenge! Props for taking the bulls by the horns and doing what you're passionate about none the less. NOW GET TO THAT FEATURE ALREADY! : ) 

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