Writer/Director Leah McKendrick’s provocative new short film Pamela & Ivy, the untold, female-made, feminist origin story of DC anti-heroine, Poison Ivy, debuted on May 11, 2020. The film tells the origin story of Poison Ivy, illustrates the series of events which led to the materialization of the supervillian, and offers a gritty exploration of the childhood trauma of one of Gotham City’s most notorious figures.
In a time where important and much needed social change is taking place throughout the world, the film tackles complex issues such as gender norms and mental health in a delicate and witty, yet impactful way. The portrayal of a female supervillain struggling with childhood trauma, prompts an important social health conversation often overlooked within the genre.
“Pamela & Ivy is a nod to the little girls who grew up searching for themselves in comic book stores. While this interpretation of Ivy may not be frilly and PINK – it’s female to the core,” notes McKendrick.
McKendrick, who also stars in the film, is an award-winning filmmaker and actress originally from San Francisco, is widely known for the critically acclaimed digital musical series which she created and starred in, Destroy the Alpha Gammas, which made her a Webby Award Honoree and a Streamy Award Nominee for Best Independent Series. Her feature film debut as a writer/producer/actress- the revenge thriller, M.F.A.- was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at SXSW 2017 and dubbed “the first horror movie to speak to the #MeToo era” by The New York Times.
The 16 minute short also stars Aria Lyric Leabu (Young Pamela) and Eric Roberts.
“During the creation of Pamela & Ivy, it was imperative for us to give some understanding to where the hyper-sexualization of previous versions of Poison Ivy comes from. Using what she has, is the magic and mystery to her; it’s her currency in the pursuit of survival and she has had to survive all of her life,” adds producer Mariah Owen.
Owen, who also has a role in the film, is an award-winning Canadian actress and filmmaker from Toronto who founded her production company, GTE Productions, at the age of 21 and has been called “The Youngest EP in Hollywood” by numerous outlets. Most recently, she produced SXSW-darling feature M.F.A. and Daddy’s Playground. In 2019, she executive produced Canada’s largest festival for Web series and podcasts, T.O. Webfest held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.
In the film, young Pamela is a prisoner in her own life at the hands of a cruel man who kidnapped her during childhood. From her pain, Ivy is born – a manifestation of dissociative identity disorder. Ivy is mocking and rageful, but confident and strong, in ways Pamela yearns to be. While locked in a basement and kept in seclusion, Pamela bonds with a small seeding that has grown up from the concrete – a weed. She builds a deep emotional connection to this vulnerable, yet resilient, life form that offers her a glimmer of hope.
Upon being rescued and returned to her family, Pamela struggles to adapt to ‘regular life’ and to trust those around her. Instead, she gravitates toward the quiet, company of plant life. Still – while Pamela’s oppressor is gone, Ivy is not. She lives in the dark corners of her mind, seething and vengeful, the lines between fantasy and reality blurring. As the years pass, Pamela waits for the moment that Ivy will once again be necessary for survival.
Link to full film: