Don’t Let it Break Your Heart: Film Programmer Kier-La Janisse In Conversation

From the Matchbox CineClub website:

Fearless film programmer and Matchbox hero Kier-La Janisse joined us last week via Zoom to discuss her inspirational career in cinema. In a two-hour conversation, Kier-La very generously held forth on everything from her zine editing to basement horror screenings; to founding the CineMuerte film festival; to programming the Alamo Drafthouse; to running her own micro cinema; to publishing her landmark memoir House of Psychotic Women; to launching her own publishing house, Spectacular Optical.

Kier-La shared the secrets of her Cannibal Holocausticles, her Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine (more on that and the scene around it in Donna de Ville’s dissertation, The Microcinema Movement and Montreal), and her hilariously ill-fated stint as a scout for Drafthouse Films. We also heard some of the highlights of her career in genre film programming, including screening Until the Light Takes Us onto a screen made of snow in the dead of the Canadian winter, hosting Deep End in a swimming pool surrounded with electrical equipment and recruiting Udo Kier to help live dub an unsubtitled print of Black Bell of the Tarantula.

We also had a chance to quiz the veteran programmer on the ethics of film programming, the evolution of horror fandom, her advice for aspiring programmers and some of her favourite films – including some of her most memorable screenings, her wishlist and the ones that got away.

You can watch the whole conversation on our Vimeo page here, or YouTube here, or you can read the transcript here.


Scalarama Glasgow’s monthly roundtables continue online (for now). Follow Scalarama Glasgow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to stay up-to-date.

The next monthly roundtable takes place on Sunday 24th May, on Zoom. Details via the Facebook page, here.

Scalarama in Scotland is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and Lottery funding from the BFI. 

About the author:

Kier-La Janisse

Kier-La Janisse is a film writer and programmer, founder of Spectacular Optical Publications and The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. She has been a programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, co-founded Montreal microcinema Blue Sunshine, founded the CineMuerte Horror Film Festival (1999-2005) in Vancouver, was the Festival Director of Monster Fest in Melbourne, Australia and was the subject of the documentary Celluloid Horror (2005). She is the author of A Violent Professional: The Films of Luciano Rossi (FAB Press, 2007) and House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films (FAB Press, 2012) and contributed to Destroy All Movies!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film (Fantagraphics, 2011), Recovering 1940s Horror: Traces of a Lost Decade (Lexington, 2014) The Canadian Horror Film: Terror of the Soul (University of Toronto Press, 2015) and We Are the Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale (PS Press, 2017). She co-edited (with Paul Corupe) and published the anthology books KID POWER! (2014), Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s (2015), Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin (2017) and Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television (2017). She edited the book Warped & Faded: Weird Wednesday and the Birth of the American Genre Film Archive (forthcoming), and is currently co-authoring (with Amy Searles) the book ‘Unhealthy and Aberrant’: Depictions of Horror Fandom in Film and Television and co-curating (with Clint Enns) an anthology book on the films of Robert Downey, Sr., as well as writing a monograph about Monte Hellman’s Cockfighter. She was a producer on Mike Malloy’s Eurocrime: the Italian Cop and Gangster Films That Ruled the ’70s and Sean Hogan’s We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea and her first film as director/producer, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is due out from Severin Films in 2020.

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