Olivia Norquay, local horror aficionado and host of the feminist horror radio show BIKINI DRIVE-IN, is the most recent addition to the programming staff at the Winnipeg Film Group’s illustrious arthouse theatre, the Cinematheque. Since her hiring in April, Norquay has made her presence felt with a number of great showings and live post-screening discussions with her and BIKINI DRIVE-IN co-host Jill Groening.

“For BIKINI DRIVE-IN, I like to cover a mix of classic and contemporary films, although I sometimes find it difficult to research newer movies,” said Norquay. “I like to let new films breathe before researching or talking about them on the show.”

Previous films shown and discussed include the Japanese classic TETSUO: THE IRON MAN and DEEP RED by Dario Argento.

She says the show has expanded her horizons, as she began loving “’90s teen horror” like THE FACULTY or CHERRY FALLS, while Groening prefers “devastating, nihilistic films.”

In programming for the theatre, Norquay said, “It’s been really cool to screen films that haven’t been shown in years, or since their initial release, like BAISE-MOI.” This past October, she looked to challenge audiences with the darker, more left-field side of horror with screenings of 1981’s POSSESSION — a “perfect and deeply exhausting film” — and the 2021 Palme D’or winner, TITANE.

“For example, I programmed a film series on the New French Extremity in September. I was pretty nervous because we were screening extremely violent and nihilistic films and I wasn’t sure how people would respond. But people seemed to really like the series. Much like with TITANE and POSSESSION, I think these visceral and challenging films allow us to think about trauma and violence and culture in a safe and ‘fun’ way.”

BIKINI DRIVE-IN largely focuses on looking at horror through an intersectional lens, examining the social and political implications of the historically challenging and subversive genre. When asked about the state of horror today, Norquay was skeptical of its current potential for meaningful critique.

“This may sound really cynical, but I find that with some newer studio films, filmmakers are relying on empty signifiers of representation rather than making any kind of social critique,” she said. “The films feel really pandering in regards to any kind of representation. It’s performative, not political.”

But TITANE avoids this pitfall for Norquay.

“It’s so messy and subversive. I think TITANE works because it’s not trying to give us too many answers or even label itself too much.”

Norquay’s latest major project at the Cinematheque was a Canadian horror marathon, the AURORA GOREALIS, which took place on Oct. 30.

“For this year’s AURORA GOREALIS, I wanted to showcase classic and lesser-known horror films, as well as Canadian short films. This is the first marathon that I’ve programmed so I’m really excited,” she said.

Norquay is currently working on a series of folk horror films and the annual Gimme Some Truth documentary festival in December.

Bikini Drive-In can be streamed anywhere you get your podcasts.

Nov 3, 2021
Arts & Culture

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Alex Braun

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