CSUMB’s queer film festival screens “She is Conann”

At least 50 students and faculty piled into the World Theater at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) on Oct. 24. to witness the new French film, “She Is Conann” (2023). The film was bloody and brutal, absolutely barbaric, but full of glitter.

Prior to the screening, several students participated in a Halloween costume contest, many others attended in costumes to celebrate the Halloween spirit. 

For the contest, there were a variety of costumes such as a self proclaimed twink-Spider-Man, a hotdog, a woodland nymph and a hooded figure. Third-year Lollie Harvey took home the first-place prize in their “American Psycho” themed costume. Every costume was given a superlative, such as “most mysterious” or “most delicious;” each contestant was awarded a spooky bracelet and matching spider ring.

“I’m Olive from ‘Easy A,’ and I wanted to come because I’m supporting my bestie [Spider-Man]. I chose this costume because I thought it would be fun, easy to do and it was cheap. I’m here to have a good time,” said Abigail French, a third-year student and the second runner-up of the costume contest. 

Three people in costumes, one wearing all red and a floral headband, one dressed as Spiderman, and the other wearing  a black corset and sunglasses.

This “Queer Horror Film Festival” was organized by the Cinematic Arts & Technology department. The film was provided by Frameline Fangs, an LGBTQIA+ international film festival which occurs annually in San Francisco. 

“Last year [CSUMB’s film festival] was really fun, so it made me want to come back. I thought the films were really good last year and everyone was super nice and festive,” said third-year Jasmin Hubbard.

This year’s film, “She is Conann,” could be seen as a trick or a treat. “It was a wild ride,” said Gabrielle Galanter, a professor who currently teaches “Horror in Film” at CSUMB. 

“She is Conann” follows the life of a twisted barbaric woman, Conann, and her creepy concubine Rainer (who is a dog from hell). This film is truly unique; it has horrific undertones which are exaggerated by continuous brutality and cannibalism. Yet, the film was still able to make audiences laugh, despite the continuous sounds of distress or disgust. 

It is notable that this film is an adaptation of the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” but with an obscure feminine take. Both Conan(n)s were enslaved as young children and had to fight their way into power. I’d say the French version is something very different from what many expect in American films. 

To contrast the terrors of the film, there was a hefty serving of glitter and metallic shine. Plus, a majority of the film was shot in black and white with sporadic bursts of strobe lights and red blood and guts – this gave the film a fascinating aesthetic. 

The film was directed by Bertrand Mandico, and this screening at CSUMB was the first time the film has ever been played on the West Coast. After the film was played, facilitators of the event opened the floor for a Q&A. 

If you are a fan of twisted horrors, and if you enjoy experimental films that make you ask yourself, ‘What did I just watch?’ try watching “She is Conann.”

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