Read

Q&A: Zia Anger

Melissa Starker, Creative Content & PR Manager

Mon, Oct 14, 2019

Richard Brody, longtime film critic for The New Yorker, saw Zia Anger's first New York performance of My First Film last month and was so enthusiastically positive, he rushed to share his thoughts about it on Twitter and the magazine's website

"In the show, Anger confronts one of the principal frustrations of independent filmmaking: the creation of a film that fails to get any release at all," Brody wrote. "Anger made such a film, Gray, between 2010 and 2012, and in My First Film, she does something about it—and, in the process, creates an altogether new and daring work of art."

Anger, who's also creating gorgeous music videos for performers such as Jenny Hval, Mitski, and Angel Olsen, is coming to the Wex for the Midwest premiere of My First Film during the 2019 Unorthodocs fest, on Saturday, October 19 at 7 PM. Before traveling to Columbus, she answered a few questions about her film industry experiences and shared some recent media that's made an impact. Before you read on, watch a must-see: Anger's searing 2015 short My Last Film

When do you first remember becoming consciously aware of the hazards specific to women in the film industry?
I’m not totally sure. Besides just always understanding that that was the case…. Early on, and consistently when making music videos it’s the most apparent. Probably because of the quantity that I have done, and different levels I have worked at. It’s a pretty common experience for me to find out that a video I am pitching on has a lower potential budget for me to use than for a man who is pitching on the video. Even though knowledge like this hurts time-and-time again it’s good to know. Knowledge is power in this industry. People hold on to what they know tightly. We often don’t share are experience. But I don’t prescribe to that. For me the greatest hazard is not knowing. 

You’ve made it clear in your work that your relationship with film is passionately love-hate, and obviously you have a lot of personal investment in the unfinished film that was ultimately folded into My First Film. How did you find your way through those emotions and into a different approach to sharing a story?
The first time I did the show was supposed to be a one-off. The show was different then. I mean it wasn’t even a show, just an experimental eulogy for all this old work. But the response from the 15 or so people [who saw it] was very inspiring and I left the theatre knowing that this was an important project to develop. I had finally come to terms with the fact that this film would never see the light of day and I was sending it to its grave, and because of that I could talk about it in a different way. There’s a lot of emphasis in this society on not quitting, because the idea is if you quit you have failed. The fact is, the moment I finally threw my hands up and acknowledged there was a lot of work that I had made that failed, it opened up a whole new portal. 

"There’s a lot of emphasis in this society on not quitting, because the idea is if you quit you have failed. The fact is, the moment I finally threw my hands up and acknowledged there was a lot of work that I had made that failed, it opened up a whole new portal."

Where do you find your heroes and idols? Are there any artists or media works that you’d like to call out for readers to check out? 
I am very inspired by my friend’s Sigrid and Monica who perform together as FlucT. If you ever have a chance to see them you absolutely must. My favorite movie last year was probably Diamantino. It’s amazing. The last season of MTVs Are You the One? was revelatory for me, in terms of how we construct narratives about ourselves. And its really trashy so it’s good to watch if you don’t have any energy. I also really liked Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, which has such a finessed narrative structure, it’s really mind expanding.