Diversity demands are all the rage in Hollywood.
Next year, any studio hoping to snag a Best Picture Oscar better meet the Academy’s new, extensive list of diversity requirements … or else. Here’s one example, straight from Oscar, Inc:
The main storyline(s), theme or narrative of the film is centered on an underrepresented group(s).
- Racial or ethnic group
- People with cognitive or physical disabilities, or who are deaf or hard of hearing
Inclusion riders are part of today’s entertainment industry, too, and projects like HBO Max’s “Velma” steer into aggressive diversity casting calls for established IPs (intellectual properties).
Now, a small horror festival is taking that push even further and attempting to punish two red states in the process.
The Salem Horror Fest, which celebrates indie shockers, posts its submission rules for the April 20-30 event on its official web site. The festival craves “unique, wild, thought provoking, and socially conscious feature films and shorts.”
One particular requirement, though, is steeped in partisan politics.
*** Please note that we will not be accepting any film submissions from Texas or Florida unless they feature LGBTQIA2S+ content or creators. No exceptions. ***
The demand targets the legislative maneuvers in those red states. Said laws, typically distorted by the press, purportedly inhibit the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Now, filmmakers who live in Florida and Texas must submit “diverse” horror films or find other festivals.
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That didn’t sit well with one filmmaker, who considers himself a staunch critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a rising GOP star. Indie film artist Michael Malott, a Florida resident, is suing the festival for discriminatory practices.
Malott’s suit contends that the festival’s policy “is openly violating the federally protected civil rights of filmmakers in two entire states and is doing such in bad faith and in violation of federal statute and law.”
The suit further points to disputes with Kay Lynch, the director of the festival, and a claim that she “launched a personal attack upon (Malott) in an attempt to cause him further harm and duress.”
Lynch told The Salem News the festival’s policy “speaks for itself.”
That trailer, and the film’s official description, suggest the film packs an anti-Trump sentiment.
…three Atlanta Goth kids who cut through rural Florida on their way to the Keys. Camping overnight off road in a secluded woods they are confronted by four good ‘ole Florida rednecks who plan to just harass and intimidate the kids. After a gun accidentally goes off and kills one of the kids, the rednecks must kill the remaining two. But unbeknownst to them that one of the kids is a practicing witch and returns from the grave to enact a brutal revenge.
One ironic element?
Malott features a quote from Lynch on his Bad Clown Films web site. She allegedly said his most recent work, “Bed of Nails,” “triggered a rage I’ve never felt before.”
The news comes on the heels of Variety’s blistering report on film festivals avoiding “problematic” entrees for fear of Cancel Culture fallout. Plus, the Sundance Film Festival forces audiences to sign a “loyalty oath” demanding they behave a certain way or be banned from future Sundance events.
Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash