Anna Biller

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Anna Biller
Anna Biller

Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Film director
  • producer
  • screenwriter
  • actress
  • editor
  • production designer
  • musician
  • costume designer
Known forFeminist films
Notable work

Anna Biller is an independent American filmmaker who has directed two feature films. Biller considers herself a feminist filmmaker and consciously explores feminist themes throughout her work, including exploring the female gaze in cinema.[1][2] She is vocal on both her website and in interviews about gender inequalities in the film industry.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Biller was born in Los Angeles[5] to a Japanese-American mother who is a fashion designer and a white father who is a visual artist.[6][7] She grew up watching her mother design clothes, watching her father paint with a bright color palette, and watching classic cinema, all of which has had a big influence on her filmmaking practice.[8] She has a B.A. in art from UCLA and an MFA in art and film from the California Institute of the Arts,[4] where she studied under Morgan Fisher and Paul McCarthy.[9] She started making 8 mm films while she was living in New York, and at CalArts she studied both art and film and began making 16 mm films.[10]


At the beginning of her career, Biller was known for her short films and staged musicals,[11] which played with old Hollywood genres and tropes from the 1930s to the 1950s.[12] She made her first short film, Three Examples of Myself as Queen, while studying at CalArts.[13] In the film, Biller plays Pointsettia, a teenager who turns into a princess and has the power to transform men into dogs.[10] The film screened at small venues and film festivals. Lane Relyea of Artforum International wrote "the film's humor and graceful perplexity may not have caused any sudden shifts in the local fault lines but did crack a glorious smile on this audience member's face."[14] John Hartl of The Seattle Times called it a "bizarre, Warholian musical fantasy."[15]

In 2001, she directed two short films: The Hypnotist, a melodrama written by her frequent collaborator Jared Sanford,[10] and A Visit from the Incubus, a Western horror musical. A Visit from the Incubus tells the story of a woman who is raped by an incubus, and decides to get back at him by challenging him to a singing competition. Robert Nott of The Santa Fe New Mexican called it a "must-see".[16]

Her 2007 debut feature film, Viva, tells the story of a bored housewife who goes out in search of sexual adventure in the 1970s. It premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam,[17] and won the Best of Fest Award at the Boston Underground Film Festival. The film was also entered into the main competition at the 29th Moscow International Film Festival.[18] Reason magazine called Viva an "uncannily precise rendition of the look, sound, mood, and arch dialogue" of seventies sexploitation films, with "high-key, pseudo-Technicolor lighting and spare, colorful set design."[19] Viva had a very limited theatrical release.[12]

Biller's second feature film, The Love Witch, premiered in 2016 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. The film is a twist on classic serial killer films, featuring a woman who kills through calculated sexuality and "love magic," causing her male victims to fall too much in love.[20] It evokes the sexploitation of women in Hammer horror films, and was shot entirely on film in order to recreate the old Hollywod style.[21] The film took Biller seven years to complete because of her attention to detail in directing, writing, costume and set design, and work with her cinematographer.[3] In a series of tweets, Biller revealed that most of the film's crew “hated what we were shooting and did not even see the movie after it was done.” When asked why this occurred, Biller replied, “I think it has something to do with being a female director, and something to do with how the line producer set up a bad vibe and then disappeared.”

Richard Brody of The New Yorker said of The Love Witch, "Biller puts genre to the test of do-it-yourself artistry, and puts feminist ideology itself to the test of style. The film pulsates with furious creative energy throughout, sparking excitement and giddy amazement that it even exists."[22] In May 2016, The Love Witch was acquired for distribution by Oscilloscope Laboratories.[23] The Love Witch was included in many lists for the best films of 2016, including those of The New Yorker and IndieWire.[24][25] It won in a tie for the Trailblazer Award and Best Costume Design at the Chicago Indie Critics Awards,[26] and also won the Michael Cimino Best Film Award at the American Independent Film Awards.[27]

In 2019, she became a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[28]

Biller has said that her next film will be a Bluebeard story.[3] Biller states "I want to make this film because I have a yearning to see more quality films for women, like the ones that were made in Hollywood’s golden age."[29]

On December 5, 2021, Biller announced she has completed her first novel.

Personal life[edit]

Biller lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, author Robert Greene.[30] Biller was a supporter of Elizabeth Warren during the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.


Year Film Type Credit
1994 Three Examples of Myself as Queen Short film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer, actor
1998 Fairy Ballet Short film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer, actor, composer
2001 The Hypnotist Short film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer
2001 A Visit from the Incubus Short film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer, actress, composer
2007 Viva Feature film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer, actress, composer
2016 The Love Witch Feature film Director, producer, writer, editor, production designer, costume designer, composer


  1. ^ Myers, Emma (December 1, 2016). "The Love Witch Is A Seductive Revenge Movie For The Heartbroken". Elle. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Garvey, Meaghan (May 16, 2017). "Female Gaze: Lana Del Rey, I Love Dick, And The Love Witch". MTV. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Patterson, John (March 2, 2017). "The Love Witch director Anna Biller: 'I'm in conversation with the pornography all around us'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Anna Biller Productions – About". Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Biller, Anna [@missannabiller] (March 28, 2018). "I was born and raised in Los Angeles, so me making movies about the history of movies is like someone who grows up in a coal mining town making movies about coal miners. It's my form of naturalism" (Tweet). Retrieved March 25, 2019 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ Turner, Gustavo (November 10, 2016). "L.A.-Bred Filmmaker Anna Biller Made a Witchy Retro Masterpiece That Straight Guys Will Misread". LA Weekly. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  7. ^ "Les Biller: Rosamund Felson Gallery". Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  8. ^ Borders, Meredith (November 7, 2016). "Birth.Movies.Interview.: Writer/Director Anna Biller On THE LOVE WITCH". Birth.Movies.Death. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  9. ^ "Calendar". Deerfield Review. Illinois. October 29, 2009. Entertainment section. Retrieved August 15, 2018 – via online NewsBank.
  10. ^ a b c Klorfein, Jason (January 31, 2010). ""Myself as Queen": A Profile and Interview with Anna Biller". Bright Lights Film Journal. Archived from the original on August 4, 2018.
  11. ^ French, Philip (May 17, 2009). "Review: Critics: Other films: Anyone for another helping of papal bull? The Da Vinci Code sequel is all very well, says Philip French, but for a real treat, catch Eric Cantona instead: Angels & Demons (140 mins, 12A) Directed by Ron Howard ; starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Armin Mueller-Stahl". Observer. London. p. 15. Retrieved August 3, 2018 – via Infotrac Newsstand.
  12. ^ a b Gorfinkel, Elena (2011). ""Dated Sexuality": Anna Biller's Viva and the Retrospective Life of Sexploitation Cinema". Camera Obscura. 26 (3 78): 95–135. doi:10.1215/02705346-1415443. Retrieved August 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Macmanus, Robert (September 22, 2009). "A Rush on Anna Biller". Vice. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  14. ^ "Best & worst: 1994". Artforum International. December 1994. p. 64+. Retrieved August 3, 2018 – via General OneFile.
  15. ^ Hartl, John (September 17, 1995). "Asian-American Film Fest Rivals 1994 with Roster of Not-to-be-missed Movies". The Seattle Times. p. M4. Retrieved August 15, 2018 – via online NewsBank.
  16. ^ Nott, Robert (November 29, 2002). "THE NEW WEST". Santa Fe New Mexican. p. 65. Retrieved August 3, 2018 – via General OneFile.
  17. ^ Modenessi, Jennifer (February 9, 2007). "IndieFest ventures back to the East Bay - Aspiring filmmakers welcome Q&A sessions; film fans just want to watch as many as they can". Contra Costa Times. Walnut Creek, CA. p. f3. Retrieved August 15, 2018 – via online NewsBank.
  18. ^ "29th Moscow International Film Festival (2007)". MIFF. Archived from the original on April 21, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2013.
  19. ^ Cavanaugh, Tim (July 24, 2008). "Win Free Sex! The never-ending charm of sexual revolution nostalgia". Reason. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  20. ^ Perry, Joseph (April 16, 2016). "'The Love Witch' (2016): Serial Killing Meets Sexual Politics In Occult Thriller". Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "The Love Witch's Plush Female Gaze". 25YL. January 11, 2022. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  22. ^ Brody, Richard (May 9, 2016). "The State of Independent Film in 2016". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  23. ^ Erbland, Kate (May 18, 2016). "Oscilloscope Laboratories Picks Up Anna Biller's Spellbinding 'The Love Witch' – Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  24. ^ Brody, Richard (December 9, 2016). "The Best Movies of 2016". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  25. ^ Ehrlich, David (December 6, 2016). "The 25 Best Movie Moments of 2016, According to IndieWire Critic David Ehrlich". IndieWire. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  26. ^ Jevens, Darel (January 8, 2017). "Top Chicago Critics Circle awards go to 'Moonlight,' 'La La Land'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  27. ^ Raup, Jordan (February 19, 2017). "'Krisha' Sweeps the Inaugural American Independent Film Awards". Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  28. ^ Hayden, Eric (July 1, 2019). "Academy Invites 842 New Members". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "Anna Biller Filmmaker and Author - Bluebeard".
  30. ^ Kurutz, Steven (November 7, 2012). "Robert Greene on Renovating Like a Master". The New York Times. Retrieved August 28, 2020.

External links[edit]