Bright Lights 2018: Ana Lily Amirpour
In 2014, a movie came out that, I'm not kidding, is described (quite perfectly) as "the first Iranian vampire spaghetti western." Completely spoken in Farsi, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is a black and white synth masterpiece that captures loneliness and has strong feminist tones throughout and it cemented Amirpour as a name to pay attention to.
Continuing her trend of incredibly describing things we want to watch, she announced she was working on The Bad Batch which she summarized as a "post-apocalyptic cannibal love story" and "Road Warrior meets Pretty in Pink with a dope soundtrack."
Although The Bad Batch was met with a much more polarized reception, the movie once against depicts a strong female lead and also a largely diverse cast and literally sets the hopes of the future on a mixed race child, a fact that Amirpour has pointed out as very intentional. The movie lived up to it's Mad Max promises, dropping us into a world where outlaws are banished to a barren wasteland and our lead, Arlen, has her right arm and leg removed and has to learn to survive in her new dire surroundings.
Amirpour is quite frankly one of the most exciting voices in film. Like Tarantino and Kubrick before her, Amirpour not only carries a deft hand for filmmaking but also carries the same amount of daring and uncompromising vision that seems destined to launch her into an incredible career.
As beautiful as the films are, whether you're entranced by the stark black and whites of the Iranian underworld or the contrasting bright yellow shorts of Arlen against the drab flat sandblasted wasteland of Texas, she also brings an incredibly unique perspective to the table. She was born in England, of Iranian descent, but was raised in the States. She has gone on record as describing herself as resonating with "the other," as she very much understands what it's like to be "the other." Hand in hand with this narrative, she also brings a distinctive powerful female representation to her films. In A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the power dynamic is shifted and our female lead is the distinctively most powerful character. In The Bad Batch we have a woman who overcomes massive amounts of adversity, both physical and mental, to come out on top against all odds.
She has recently ventured out into other avenues of filmmaking, directing an episode of FX mutant mind trip Legion and an animated episode of National Geographic's Breakthrough. Equally interesting, she just dropped a nine minute long short titled Yo! My Saint which is part film, part music and part fashion created with Karen O. and Japanese clothing line Kenzo. While nothing has been officially announced for 2018, it's impossible to not keep the young director on your radar.
Listen, if the film industry needs anything, it's more diversity. We have started to see the tides change, this article coming hot of the heels of the news that Greta Gerwig and Jordan Peele are getting Oscar recognition, and it's exhilarating to know that a filmmaker and writer like Amirpour will be at the lead of this new charge.