A Kentucky Director's Most Celebrated Film Will Be Screening In Louisville Soon, Followed By Live Discussion

Kentucky fans will have two chances to meet and greet the director

Jul 3, 2024 at 4:05 pm
A Kentucky Director's Most Celebrated Film Will Be Screening In Louisville Soon, Followed By Live Discussion (2)

Hailing from Ashland, KY, director Allison Anders has built a career weaving stories of women and their relationships to each other and to the places where they live. She experienced a lot of abuse and upheaval growing up, and those experiences, along with her unconventional and rich life among artists and musicians has informed a lot of her artistic creations. She makes heartfelt films full of authentic observations about how women move through space, along with a sensitivity to spoken language and the emotional truth of music. Her second film, “Gas, Food, Lodging,” released in 1993, was a pillar of the early 90s New Hollywood movement, and set a standard for personal, independent filmmaking. The story of a single mom raising teenage daughters in a small New Mexico town paralleled Anders’ own life, and she used her experience growing up in a small town Kentucky to flesh out the trapped atmosphere the teenage characters resent.

Mi Vida Loca Screening and Discussion with Director
Allison Anders

Thursday, July 11
$12 / $8 for Speed or Women in Film KY members

Speed Cinema, 2035 S. Third St. 


While “Gas, Food, Lodging” is her best known and most celebrated film among rarified cinefiles, “Mi Vida Loca” (1994) may be her most admired work among diverse audiences around the world. A slice of life film focused on young Chicanas growing up in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood in the early 90s, this perspective-shifting fable features a mix of non-professional and professional actors, many of whom were Anders’ neighbors. The film utilizes a multitude of voice-overs to tell a variety of stories from the neighborhood, using the tale of best friends Sad Girl and Mousie and the father of their children, Ernesto, as a springboard into the friendships and rivalries among these female gang members.

In the thirty years since this film’s release, admiration for “Mi Vida Loca” has grown, which, considering that the only way to stream the film is via Youtube uploads, is proof that marketing alone does not make an audience. The film’s authenticity is key to its success. Allison Anders was very aware of her status as a white woman in a Latino neighborhood and deliberately set out to not make a preachy, colonizing movie. Everything in the film, from the dialogue and music to the locations and clothes, was consulted about and approved by the people who lived in the neighborhood, with money spent in the neighborhood. The unusual mix of romanticism and realism gives the film a chance to grow as the viewer ages too, and what appealed to me about the film when I was 16 is different from what appeals today. The love triangle between Mousie, Sad Girl, and Ernesto is less interesting today than the career plans of Giggles, newly released from prison and determined not to depend on men to get through life, especially when told opposite Whisper’s story as she develops her drug trade.

Contemporary reviews of “Mi Vida Loca” were very bothered by what they described as a lack of cohesion in the film, and many reviews reveal a longing for a thorough storyline. This reviewer thinks they may have missed the point of the experiment on display, which is an impressionistic look at everyday life with its small and large episodes, told by the people who live the story. It’s a beautiful movie that sets a pre-gentrified Echo Park and its Chicana culture in amber.  

I am proud to say that I will be joining Allison onstage after this screening for a discussion about the impact of “Mi Vida Loca” thirty years later.  She is always a delight to listen to, and her insights into filmmaking are refreshingly candid, straightforward, and entertaining. I look forward to hearing her reflections all these years later.

12th Annual Harry Dean
Stanton Fest

July 12-14
Lexington, KY


Ms. Anders will be in her home state to attend the 12th Annual Harry Dean Stanton Fest, Lexington’s celebration of the incomparable beloved Kentucky character actor. This year the festival is focused on Stanton’s lifelong love of music with a line-up of films that are about musicianship or have a heavy focus on soundtrack. Anders will be joined onstage by Houston post-punk band MyDolls following a screening of “Paris, Texas.” Director Wim Wenders gave Anders her start as a PA on this film, which also showcased Mydolls onstage. Later that night, Mydolls will also be playing along with The Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson at the Green Lantern Bar.

Other highlights from this year’s HDS Fest include a graveside screening of “Repo Man” in Blue Grass Memorial Gardens, and free screenings of “Cool Hand Luke,” “Paris, Texas,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Cisco Pike,” and “The Rose,” all playing at the Lexington Public Library’s Farish Theater.  The festival closes with a Kentucky Theat re screening of Paolo Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place,” featuring a post-film discussion with musician/actor Will Oldham.