Black Women Horror Filmmakers: Stephanie Jeter

There isn't a figurative wall Stephanie Jeter visions her work blocked by. All parts fantasy, comedy, drama, sci-fi, thriller, horror, and beyond, this Chicago creative never misses an opportunity to balance her time leading production for Open TV, working behind the scenes on Showtime's Shameless, binging The Leftovers, and writing/directing eerie and reflective cinema.

The atmosphere for Jeter's directorial debut, Searching For Isabelle began as a string of thoughts on the lack of coverage on the alarming number of women of color who go missing. By using the very media that underserves this fact, Jeter created factual fiction by shifting the narrative to an autonomous protagonist who has a direct, special ability to flash focus on this issue. With all of her research, including spending time with two Chicago PD detectives who work on missing persons cases in minority communities, Searching For Isabelle ends up being a frightening and holistic snapshot of a real deal.

The title character (played by newcomer Charlee Cotton) has a range of school, dating, and work in her bright path, but a mysterious killer emerging from the shadows threatens her trajectory. Foaming slightly over 15 minutes, Searching For Isabelle's strength is its steady and deeply engaging pace with fantastic performances that settles you in for a journey of suspense. Will Isabelle's loved ones be able to be able to find her before this killer makes his final move? Searching For Isabelle is a touching yet damning critique on who is prioritized by law enforcement, community, and media when it comes to missing persons. Black women, the constant symbol of invisibility are broadly represented through Isabelle.

The power to be made visible is extremely dynamic. Searching For Isabelle is literal #Blackgirlmagic and further, utilizing the realm of the supernatural as an agent for awareness and positivity; a reoccuring element of the Black horror aesthetic. Jeter using the horror genre to radicalize our humanity in a racist society complicates the magical trope by compounding it with layers that helps us find answers to help ourselves in the most harrowing of circumstances.

Stephanie Jeter is a DePaul University graduate who continues to live in Chicago developing her own short, feature, and television projects.

@StephanieJeter on Twitter / IMDb 
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