Director: Janicza Bravo Run Time: 90 min. Rating: R Release Year: 2021
Starring: Colman Domingo, Nicholas Braun, Riley Keough, Taylour Paige
Country: United States
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About the film:
Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. From acclaimed writer-director Janicza Bravo, Zola’s stranger than fiction saga, which she first told in a now iconic series of viral, uproarious tweets, comes to dazzling cinematic life.
Zola, a Detroit waitress, strikes up a new friendship with a customer, Stefani, who seduces her to join a weekend of dancing and partying in Florida. What at first seems like a glamorous trip full of “hoeism” rapidly transforms into a 48-hour journey involving a nameless pimp, an idiot boyfriend, some Tampa gangsters and other unexpected adventures in this wild, see-it-to-believe-it tale.
“Ultimately, Zola is the perfect summer film; it’s a freewheeling joyride through the seamy side of stripping that balances the thrill of voyeurism with the dangerous reality.”
—Sheri Flanders for Chicago Reader
About the filmmaker:
Born in New York City, Janicza Bravo was raised on an army base in Panama City, Panama, before moving back to the U.S. at age 12. She studied directing and design for theatre at New York University. Her previous work includes the Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning dark comedy short film, Gregory Goes Boom (2013), and her debut feature Lemon (2017). She has also directed episodes of Atlanta, Dear White People, and Mrs. America.
In 2014, she was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2014, one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch at the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival, and a collection of her short films are currently available to stream at Criterion, who applauds “the singular, gonzo sensibility that has made her one of American independent cinema’s most exciting voices.” In 2022, Bravo was one of nine directors commissioned to design a series of rooms for an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art.
One of the most anticipated films of the year, Zola (2020) is Bravo’s second feature, written with critically acclaimed playwright Jeremy O. Harris, whose Slave Play received 12 nominations at the 2021 Tony Awards. Read more about the film and the challenges they faced as Black filmmakers in IndieWire.See our upcoming films