Film of the Month: Anna Biller

Posted March 2nd, 2017 by Matt Turner

Anna Biller is a filmmaker whose work focuses on the “lived day-to-day experience of the female,” using the styles and modes of classic cinema to address female roles within culture, “coding feminist ideas within cinematic aesthetics and visual pleasure.” Though her work appropriates, quotes and reinterprets existing conventions, it remains entirely unique. “”Proper” art films masquerading as popular films.”

An auteur in every sense, Biller looks to “control everything that goes into the film frame.” She has a BA in art from UCLA, and an MFA in Film and Visual Arts from CalArts; and as well as writing, directing and frequently starring in her films, she draws and paints regularly, and designs, sews and crafts the props, costumes and materials for her films, as well as scoring them.

Between 1994 and 2001, she made four short films on 16mm, having experimented with Super 8 and developed a fondness for working with film. These four films, Three Examples of Myself as Queen (1994), Fairy Ballet (1998), The Hypnotist (2001) and A Visit from the Incubus (2001), screened at major film festivals and art spaces around the world and received attention from various outlets and journals. All of the films adopt settings or styles of classic genre modes – Hollywood musicals in Three Examples of Myself as Queen, the western in A Visit from the Incubus, or 1940s melodrama in The Hypnotist – as a starting point to explore issues such as sexuality, role-playing and societal expectations of women.

In 2007, she made her first feature Viva on 35mm, a comedic, deftly intricate feminist inversion of 1960s and ’70s sexploitation films that premiered at Rotterdam before touring festivals and attract a cult fanbase. Her latest feature, The Love Witch, explores the femme-fatale archetype through the story of a witch who casts spells on men to make them fall in love with her, exploring love, desire, and narcissism, as well as men’s expectations and (mis)understanding of women. The film became wildly popular after screening as Rotterdam’s only feature playing on film at the 2016 festival, and after a number of rave reviews, was picked up for distribution by American company Oscilloscope.

In the UK, Icon Horror UK is distributing the film in collaboration with the feminist horror film collective The Final Girls. The film will tour across the country in February and March, and it will be available on VOD worldwide.

  1. siobhan


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