Allison Anders

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Allison Anders
Born (1954-11-16) November 16, 1954 (age 60)
Ashland, Kentucky, United States
Occupation Director, screenwriter
Years active 1987–present

Allison Anders (born November 16, 1954) is an American film and television director. Anders has directed many independent films, on which she frequently collaborates with fellow UCLA film school graduate Kurt Voss.

Early life[edit]

Anders was born in Ashland, Kentucky. As a child, Anders experienced many troubles that have influenced her films now. When she was 4 years old, her father abandoned her, her mother, and four sisters.[1] After her mother moved her and her sisters to Los Angeles, Anders suffered a mental breakdown at the age of 15.[1] When she came out of the psychiatric ward, she was placed into foster care but instead she ran from home and began hitch hiking across the country, an adventure mostly ending with jail.[1] After turning 17, Anders dropped out of high school in Los Angeles and moved back to Kentucky and later on moved to London with the man who fathered her first child.[2] In her early 20's she moved back to Los Angeles with her daughter and attended junior college while doing several odd jobs.[1] With her life and education back on track, Anders prepared her requirements in order to apply for UCLA Film School.[3]

Due to her constant relocation as a child, Anders was unable to receive a steady education. Instead, most of her time was spent watching TV and going to movie theaters.[3] At first, she was unaware of the filming business. Television and movies were a mere form of entertainment. It wasn't until her early 20's when she began watching Wim Wenders films, that she realized film was a business she saw a future with.[3] His style of filming and the pace of his movies inspired her. She noticed that the scenes took their time and not a lot had to be said.[3] Wenders's work seemed very natural to him and made Anders feel as if the movies were real life, giving her the inspiration and drive she needed to finally apply for Film School at UCLA. Her real confirmation in her career choice came after her first production. During her studies at UCLA, Anders produced her first little super-8 16-millimeter sound movie. Her classmates and teachers were to watch it and give her criticism. Even Wenders attended the screening. In an interview with PBS Frontline, she expresses her anxiety at the thought of having to stand in the front of the class and take in the criticism. But after realizing she was not scared, she says to herself "You know what? I don't care. I don't care if nobody likes it. I really like this movie." [3] From then on, Anders had full confidence in her career path.

Directing career[edit]


Her first film effort co-written and co-directed by Kurt Voss and Dean Lent was the punk music-heavy Border Radio, which was nominated for Best Feature of 1988 by the Independent Feature Project for Best First Feature.[4] The film told of three musicians who take money that is owed to them from a job and flee to Mexico. The indie drama paints a compelling picture of Los Angeles punk-rock scenes of the 1980s; what it was like from the side and from inside the musicians head.[4]

Despite the $2000 contribution from Vic Tayback and the loans from Voss' parents to fund the making of the film, there was not enough money to make the movie Paramount status. They were forced to use local scenes to film the movie and cast performers close at hand. However, this is actually in accordance to their original plan. As the leading lady, they cast Anders' sister, Luanna, Ander's own daughter, Devon, as Luanna's daughter, and Chris D. (né Chris Desjardins) as the leading man. Violating UCLA policy, the filmmakers cut the film at night in the school's editing bays, where Anders’s two young daughters would sleep on the floor.[4]

In the late 1980s, Anders had become friends with some members of the pop group Duran Duran, and frequently inserted small references to the band in her films (character names, posters on walls, and so on). In 1999, after bassist John Taylor had left Duran Duran and was beginning to launch an acting career, she co-wrote and co-directed the film Sugar Town with Kurt Voss about the Los Angeles film and music industry, which starred several musical friends of hers, including Taylor, X singer John Doe, Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, and singer/actor Michael Des Barres. The film was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, one for Best Film and one for best Newcomer for Jade Gordon. The film won the Fantasportoaward for Best Screenplay for Anders and Voss.[citation needed]


Anders followed up with her popular 1992 film Gas Food Lodging, for which she won a New York Film Critics Circle Award and National Society of Film Critics for Best New Director, a nomination for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay, a nomination for Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director, and for which actress Fairuza Balk won an Independent Spirit Award.[5] The film also won the Deauville Film Festival Critics Award and film was also nominated for the Golden Bear at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival.[6] Gas Food Lodging gives audiences a look at three vibrant, restless women in a dusty Western town,[7] chronicling a coming of age story about a truck stop waitress and her two daughters.

Her next film for Cineville was Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life), about girl gangs in the poor Hispanic Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, where Anders lived. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993, and saw wide release in 1994.[8][9] This is the female perspective of what it means to live in the inner city, where almost every girl has at least one child by age 21, and most homeboys of the same age are either dead or in prison. Mi Vida Loca peers into the lives of several of the young Echo Park women.[10]

In 1996, she garnered further acclaim with Grace of My Heart, the story of a backroom songwriter (Illeana Douglas) who tires of making other people famous. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach had their first collaboration on her film, and were nominated for a Grammy Award. Anders made another film Sugar Town, before turning to television. Sugar Town followed the interconnected lives of a handful of power brokers, wanna-bes and has-beens. Gwen (played by Jade Gordon), a self-centered would-be rock star who will do anything to further her career, is working as an assistant to production designer Liz Ally Sheedy, but when Gwen discovers Liz has a date with famous producer Burt Larry Klein, any loyalty she has to her boss immediately goes out the window.[citation needed]


Her 2001 film Things Behind the Sun, dealing with the long-term aftermath of rape, won an Emmy Award nomination for actor Don Cheadle for Best Supporting Actor, three Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Don Cheadle for Best Supporting Actor, Kim Dickens for Best Actress, and Best Film. She and co-writer Kurt Voss received a nomination for the Edgar Award. The film was awarded the SHINE Award as well as the Peabody Award. When a young journalist (played by Gabriel Mann) goes to interview a female rock singer (played by Kim Dickens) memories of his past are awaken and they are both forced to confront the troubling secrets of their past.[citation needed]

Anders began directing shows for broadcast and cable television in 1999, including several episodes in the second and third seasons of Sex and the City, as well as episodes of Grosse Pointe, Cold Case, The L Word, Men In Trees, The Mentalist, and What About Brian?

In 2002 Anders received the Spirit Of Silver Lake Award from the Silver Lake Film Festival. In 2003 Anders became a Distinguished Professor at UC Santa Barbara where she teaches in the Film And Media Studies Department one quarter every year. In 2006 she appeared in the road-trip documentary Wanderlust.

2007 saw the DVD release of Border Radio as part of the Criterion Collection. Anders is the co-founder with her musician daughter, Tiffany Anders of the Don't Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival, in Los Angeles. She has also contributed to the web series Trailers from Hell. In 2011 she directed an episode of John Wells' productions Southland.[citation needed]

Anders interviewed 94-year-old actress and Hollywood legend, Marge Champion, who appeared at a 2013 Hollywood film festival screening of the 1968 cult film, The Swimmer (starring Burt Lancaster). The interview was a featured supplementary behind-the-scenes on the 2014 Blu-ray/DVD release of the film by Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office Spectaculars Blu-ray/DVD restoration of the film.[11]


Feature Film Credits[edit]

Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
1987 Border Radio Yes Yes Won - Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature 1988
1992 Gas Food Lodging Yes Yes Won - New York Film Critics Circle for Best New Director 1992
Won - National Society of Film Critics for Best New Director 1992
Nominated - Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screen Play 1992
Nominated - Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director 1992
1993 Mi Vida Loca Yes Yes
1995 Four Rooms Yes Yes Segment: The Missing Ingredient
1996 Grace of My Heart Yes Yes
1999 Sugar Town Yes Yes
2001 Things Behind the Sun Yes Yes
2002 In The Echo Yes Yes Yes TV Movie
2011 A Crush on You Yes TV Movie
2012 Strutter Yes Yes Yes

Selected television credits[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Marx, Rebecca Flint. "Allison Anders". Hollywood (2009).
  2. ^ "Allison_Anders Biography". Yahoo Movies
  3. ^ a b c d e Anders, Allison. "The Monster That Ate Hollywood." Interview. Frontline. PBS. Arlington, Virginia, 22 Nov. 2001. Television. Transcript. (2001).
  4. ^ a b c Morris, Chirs. "Border Radio: Where Punk Lived". The Criterion Collection. (2007)
  5. ^ Ravi, Rebecca Flint Marx. "Allison Anders Biography". Fandango. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  6. ^ "Berlinale: 1992 Programme". Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Gas Food Lodging; Rueful Women, Rootless Men In a Dreary Western Town". New York Times 1992-07-31
  8. ^ "IMDb biography for Allison Anders". Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  9. ^ LeVasseur, Andrea. Gas Food Loging. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  10. ^ Berardinelli, James. Mi Vida Loca at Reelviews. (1994)
  11. ^ [1] Film Score Monthly “Aisle Seat 3-25: The Swimmer, Wolf of Wall Street” by Andy Dursin, March 24, 2014

External links[edit]