Zola (2020) [Feature]

USA (MIFF 2021 )
Director: Janicza Bravo

Viewer advice: Contains high-impact sexual themes


An infamous tweetstorm about a wild, pole-dancing Florida road trip has become one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year.

“Y’all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” So began a soon-to-be-viral 148-tweet thread in 2015, in which Detroit waitress A’Ziah “Zola” King recounted an outrageous two-day excursion she took across the strip clubs of Florida. Now, the stranger-than-fiction tale has come to life on the big screen – a Sundance 2020 smash starring Taylour Paige (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) as Zola and Riley Keough (The Girlfriend Experience) as Stefani, the pole dancer who seduces her into a weekend carnival of all-round “hoeism”.

Director Janicza Bravo (Lemon, MIFF 2017) brings an irresistible, hyper-kinetic energy to this deranged Southern odyssey, while Melbourne cinematographer Ari Wegner (In Fabric, MIFF 2019) conjures up a dreamy, neon-lit world of palm trees, pimps and players set to Mica Levi’s pulsating, ethereal score. Part Spring Breakers, part Hustlers and all female gaze, this road-trip-gone-wrong is disorientating, sometimes disturbing and deeply, darkly funny.

“The stripper tweetstorm movie you’ve been waiting for … A wild candy-colored road saga with piles of style and postmodern flair, told in the key of smartphone.” – Entertainment Weekly

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