Kurt Voss

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Kurt Voss
Born Kurt Christopher Peter Wössner
September 15, 1963
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Film director, screenwriter, musician, songwriter
Years active 1987 – present
Spouse(s) Sara Ashley

Kurt Voss (born Kurt Christopher Peter Wössner; September 15, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter and musician/songwriter. Voss has written and directed a dozen feature films, including Will Smith's debut "Where The Day Takes You"; the Justin Theroux, Alyssa Milano and Ice T action film "Below Utopia"; actress Jaime Pressly's debut feature Poison Ivy: The New Seduction, the romance Baja starring Molly Ringwald and Lance Henriksen, and numerous rock and roll related films including the films Down and Out with the Dolls[1] and "Ghost on The Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club." Voss has frequently collaborated with fellow UCLA alumnus Allison Anders.[2] Working together over twenty-five years, the duo created a trilogy of rock films: Border Radio (1987), a portrait of the L.A. punk scene featuring such stalwarts as John Doe ("X") and Dave Alvin ("The Blasters") and published by the prestigious Criterion Collection; the Sundance-premiered Sugar Town (1999), featuring John Taylor ("Duran Duran") and Rosanna Arquette; and Strutter (2012), a Kickstarter-financed independent film.[3]


"I never had any movie contacts. I just liked movies as a kid," Voss says, trying to explain what led him to his vocation. "I liked John Wayne."[4] The interest prompted him to leave high school and sign up at a junior college, with the goal of transferring to UCLA's film school; he graduated at age 20 with the designation of most promising graduate.[5] "Border Radio" began as a sub rosa project at the UCLA film school by Allison Anders, Dean Lent and Kurt Voss, who pooled their talents as co-producers, co-writers and co-directors to turn out their $82,000 black and white[6] film, which the Los Angeles times called, "Quite simply one of the best films ever made about the world of rock music,",[7] with critic Kevin Thomas adding, "The music and image go together so powerfully, it's poetry.".[8] Upon its theatrical release,[9] L.A. Weekly critic Johnathan Gold opined, "This is the movie Penelope Sheeris wishes she had made, a movie that explores the punk aesthetic without condescending to it, a sweet, funny no-future movie that hints there is a future after all."[10] Creem Magazine called it "The sort of small film one longs to see more often"[11] and praised "...A subtle, dynamic score by Dave Alvin."[12] It wasn't only the opportunity to do a full-fledged soundtrack that attracted Alvin to Border Radio. "The film was different," he says. "It had three directors, which is very different. I realized that what I do as a musician is very close to what independent filmmakers do." Alvin also felt akin with Border Radio because the film is set on his turf, inside the Los Angeles rock scene; in fact, its main actors are Alvin's longtime friends Chris D. of Divine Horsemen and X's John Doe."[13]

The Hollywood Reporter had deemed Border Radio "A wonderfully quixotic look at vanishing dreams and misplaced integrity."[14] But Voss' first feature experience was almost his last, when he became fed up with financial and distribution problems and turned to the track[15] to support himself, with mixed result.


Ironically, his bad luck with the horses led to two films dealing with the subject.[16] Hollywood Reporter critic Duane Byrge found the first feature, "Horseplayer," an "Eerie and nauseating look into the most twisted form of artistic inspiration," [17] and Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film: "Winning, thrilling... The L.A. minimalist movie at its best. A dry, deadpan psychological thriller that makes a virtue of its no-budget."[18] Critic Betsey Sherman of Boston Globe wrote "This psychothriller is one of the best American independent films this year."[19]


With a 50-ish jazz score and dark tone (though the film was shot in color), "Genuine Risk" tells the story of Henry (Peter Berg), a boyishly naive loser at the track who ends up...a runner for racketeer Paul Hellwart (Terrence Stamp).[20] Voss considered casting the veteran Stamp a coup. "We were still trying to get him up to three or four days before shooting. I felt very fortunate."[21] Upon the film's theatrical release,[22] L.A. Times critic Michael Wilmington said, "Probably young writer-director wanted the kind of high-style gritty mix Stephen Frears achieves in The Grifters." But "Genuine Risk" is safer, slighter: a formula job that only rarely breaks the mold."[23] The L.A. Weekly called "Genuine Risk" "...A chance to show tough-guy untraviolence accompanied by crisp, state-of-the-art sound effects of bones cracking...glossy, vapid, morally bankrupt."[24] Alain Silver, editor of Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, found elements to appreciate in the film - ""Genuine Risk" has the deadliest of the femme fatales and is the most traditional in approach. It is also the most self-conscious, as locations, lighting style, and art direction constantly underscore the sordidness of the milieu. Even more overt is the script which features lines like, "A racetrack is like a woman...a man weathers so much banality in pursuit of the occasional orgasmic moment." What distinguishes "Genuine Risk" is the offhandedness of its violence, where people are beaten or die painfully, abruptly and without reason in stagings that capture the disturbing tone of videotapes of real events from surveillance cameras. It also has some wryness and novelty in its plot and casting, most notably Terrence Stamp as a 60's British pop star turned petty mobster.[25] Voss himself said: "Genuine Risk was a movie with Peter Berg and Terence Stamp that was done as part of the noir wave of the time. Actually a better example of the genre was Delusion [1991], which I was a writer on. But Genuine Risk had some good stuff in it, too. I really liked working with Terence Stamp, because he's so economical an actor."[26]


A collaboration between Voss and the film's director, Carl Colpaert,"Delusion" was featured in Paper Magazine's 'Best of Guide', where film critic Dennis Dermody called it "...A nerve-racking desert noir thriller...a moody and unnerving film."[27] Gary Franklin from KABC-TV said, "...It's A 10!...A major sleeper...Trust me - See 'Delusion.'"[28] Critic Stuart Klawans of The Nation wrote, "It's a delight...Discover and cherish.".[29] Village Voice's Georgia Brown claimed: "An auspicious first film...(that) easily beats most of the studio competition."[30] Terry Kelleher of Newsday opined: "A 90's film noir...visually striking and refreshingly feminist."[31] Seattle Times writer John Hartl said: "An amusingly twisty, and entertaining film noir homage."[32] Debut actress Jennifer Rubin also earned acclaim, Playboy resident critic Bruce Williamson asserting,"...Jennifer Rubin steals every scene she has."[33] Boston Globe writer Robin Adam Sloan agreed, writing, "Jennifer Rubin has charged the screen with sex appeal."[34]


Janet Maslin of The New York Times said, "This is 'Rebel Without a Cause' without the grown-ups and without boundaries."[35] Critic David Sheehan of KNBC-TV Los Angeles said, "Captures the hard core reality of L.A. street kids with intensity and brilliance."[36] Bob Healy of the Satellite News Network/KBIG Radio spoke of "Where the Day Takes You" as, "One of the ten best films of the year."[37] Jeff Craig of 60 Second Preview simply claimed, "4 Stars. A stunner."[38]


On November 15, 2010, Kurt Voss and Allison Anders began a public fundraising campaign via Kickstarter.[39] Allison Anders and Kurt Voss made "Strutter for $25,000."[40] ""I dare say it wouldn't have been possible if we didn't have a careers' worth of favours to pull in here and there, said Voss."[41] Brendan Kelly of The Montreal Gazette wrote: "It's a terrific film. Anders - who is best known for directing the award winning 1992 indie cult classic "Gas Food Lodging" - and Voss consider this to be the final film in their rock n' roll trilogy, which includes the 1987 flick "Border Radio", a snap shot of the LA punk scene starring real life rockers John Doe from X and Dave Alvin from The Blasters, and the 1999 film "Sugar Town", which stars John Taylor from Duran Duran as an aging rocker."[42] During the production, cast and crew drove into the high desert, where they shot an improvisational scene in Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn to perform a seance for country-rocker Gram Parsons, who died there. The on-camera tributes and interactions were spontaneous and raw.[43]"It's real vomit in the movie when the kids are sick from drink at the strip club," noted Voss of the mostly young cast. "They carried on like little hellions."[44] Arte-TV called the movie: "...Pure Punk Rock."[45] Hollywood Reporter said: "Anders and Voss are greatly helped in their effort by a fresh-faced and talented cast, led by (Flannery) Lunsford, whose quiet desperation always has the undertones of a guy almost ready to explode, with Elyse Hollander and Sara Ashley delivering charming supporting turns as friends trying to keep him just on the right side of crazy."[46]

In July 2012, Voss and Ashley attended the Munich Film Festival for the world premiere of "Strutter."[47]

The couple also took the film to Pop Montreal Film Festival in Quebec, Canada.[48]

In October 2012, the pair again represented the film, this time before the Japanese press at the Tokyo International Film Festival.[49][50]

Kurt and Sara next surfaced in July, 2014 with a musical project entitled "Sadistic Hands", releasing debut single and video, "So Low".[51] The official website soon followed: http://sadistichands.com[52] Sadistic Hands released their 10-Track debut album in January 2015, for sale on iTunes[53] and Amazon[54]

Strutter was released theatrically in Japan on September 14, 2013.[55] It awaits digital distribution in the U.S., although as recently as July 2014 it has screened at repertory theaters, often with Voss and Anders in attendance to discuss the film's production methods and the viability of crowd source financing.[56]

Anders and Voss also co-wrote Things Behind The Sun (2001), which was awarded a Peabody Award in 2002.[57]


In addition to his film work, Voss is a founding member of the West Coast punk band The Hindi Guns, an outfit which produced three highly regarded albums.[58] The First, "The Hindi Guns" (2004, French Fan Club Records) inspired Rolling Stone magazine's Senior Editor David Fricke to write, "I've already found one of my favorite new bands of the year: a rough, bewitching four-piece from Portland" and "'I Don't Want To Drink Mercury" is your best ticket into these ten tracks: a bluesy crawl set in dub-like darkness, like early Hole produced by Lee Perry."[59] Early vinyl pressings of the album found their way into the hands of the late and legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ, John Peel, who put three of the album tracks into rotation on his BBC program.[60]

The album was supported by a 30 city U.S. tour, the West Coast portion of which was filmed for a short film which can be found on Youtube. The Hindi Guns second album, Rarities (2009), was a collection of EP material, B-sides and studio outtakes. The album was reviewed in Record Collector by British punk critic Kris Needs, who gave the record four stars, writing, "Anyone who dedicates a song to 'Instant Karma and The Peel Sessions' must have their heart in the right place. The late DJ was a fan and it's not hard to see why...[61] After the departure of original singer Dee Dee Cheriel, the founding members of Hindi Guns made a farewell album, entitled Do Or Die (French Fan Club Records, 2009). The CD featured a photo of a sword-wielding Yukio Mishima; the back cover of the record depicted a photo of the author's severed head. The album received extensive college radio play, and an honorable mention in the annual roundup of "Year's Best" by ex-Times pop writer Kevin Bronson [62] But by then the group was disbanded. Voss went on to spent the next twenty-four months involved in the production of the rock film Strutter (2012).

In July 2014, Kurt Voss announced via his Google page [63] and via a new band website [64] that he and wife Sara Ashley were commencing upon a new music project entitled "Sadistic Hands".[65]

Personal life[edit]

From 1990 to 1993, Kurt Voss was married to British actress Sammi Davis, with whom he made the film Horseplayer.

Voss married actress Sara Ashley in May 2012. The two met while on set of Strutter, a film in which she acted, and Voss co-directed. The two debuted a new band entitled "Sadistic Hands" in the Spring of 2014.[66]


  • Strutter (2012) (Writer)
  • Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and The Gun Club (2006) (writer)
  • In the Echo (2002) (TV) (writer)
  • Down and Out with the Dolls (2001) (screenplay) (story)
  • Things Behind the Sun (2001) (written by)
  • Sugar Town (1999) (written by)
  • The Heist (1999) (writer)
  • The Pass (1998) (writer)
  • Baja (1996) (written by)
  • Amnesia (1996) (screenplay)
  • Dangerous Touch (1994) (writer)
  • Where the Day Takes You (1992) (writer)
  • Delusion (1991) (writer)
  • Genuine Risk (1990) (screenplay) (story)
  • Horseplayer (1990) (writer)
  • Border Radio (1987) (writer)


  • Strutter (2012)
  • Ghost on the Highway: A Portrait of Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the Gun Club (2006)
  • Down and Out with the Dolls (2001)
  • Sugar Town (1999)
  • The Heist (1999)
  • The Pass (1998)
  • Poison Ivy: The New Seduction (1997) (V)
  • Below Utopia (1997)
  • Baja (1996)
  • Amnesia (1996)
  • Genuine Risk (1990)
  • Horseplayer (1990)
  • Border Radio (1987)


  • The Hindi Guns - Hindi Guns (2004)
  • The Hindi Guns - Rarities (2009)
  • Hindi Guns - Do Or Die (2009)
  • The Hindi Guns -Patriot Act EP (2004)
  • The Hindi Guns - Crowley (Lion CD) - Single (2007)


  1. ^ Eddie Cockrell (30 July 2001). "Down and Out with the Dolls (Review)". Variety. p. 20. 
  2. ^ "Alumnus Kurt Voss' New Film Epitomizes the Independent Spirit". UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. 4 April 2003. Retrieved 10 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Steve Appleford (13 April 2013). "Allison Anders and Kurt Voss Keep the Music Playing". L.A. Times. p. 3. 
  4. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk"", November 18, 1990, P.28
  5. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk", November 18, 1990, P.28
  6. ^ UPI, The Daily Spectrum, "Trio of College Film Makers Hit It Big With Border Radio," September 9, 1988, p.2
  7. ^ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, "'Border Radio' Captures Rock-Music Life", September 2, 1988, p.4
  8. ^ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, "'Border Radio' Captures Rock-Music Life", September 2, 1988, p.4
  9. ^ Eric Harwood, Daily Variety, "'Betrayed Tops Fiery L.A. B.O. Sesh, September 7, 1988, p.6
  10. ^ Jonathan Gold, L.A. Weekly, Film Pick of The Week, September 9–15, 1988, p.76
  11. ^ S.A., Creem Magazine, Capsule Reviews, January 1988
  12. ^ S.A., Creem Magazine, Capsule Reviews, January 1988
  13. ^ Cort Fernald, Calendar Magazine, "Alvin Tunes into Border Radio", September 1–15, 1988, p.50
  14. ^ Duane Burge, The Hollywood Reporter, November 19, 1987
  15. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk"", November 18, 1990, P.28
  16. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk"", November 18, 1990, P.28
  17. ^ Duane Byrge, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Horseplayer", January 24, 1990, P.38
  18. ^ Kevin Thomas, The Los Angeles Times, "Kurt Voss' Winning Thrilling "Horseplayer." October 25, 1991 P.F16
  19. ^ Betsey Sherman, The Boston Globe, "Dourif Shines in Fine "Horseplayer"", September 10, 1990, P.10
  20. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk"", November 18, 1990, P.29
  21. ^ Sue Adolphson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Young Director Bets Heavily on "Genuine Risk"", November 18, 1990, P.29
  22. ^ Amy Dawes, Daily Variety,""Edward","Grifters", Sharp Exclusives", December 11, 1990, P.6
  23. ^ Michael Wilmington, LA Times, "Kurt Voss' Genuine Risk Doesn't Take Very Many", December 7, 1990, P.F6
  24. ^ Arion Berger, The LA Weekly, December 13, 1990, P.63
  25. ^ Alain Silver, Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, "Genuine Risk", P.421-422
  26. ^ http://www.aboutfilm.com/features/downandoutwiththedolls/feature.htm
  27. ^ Dennis Dermody, Paper Magazine *Best of Guide*, "Best of Film": "Delusion", June 1, 1991, P.20
  28. ^ Gary Franklin, KABC-TV, Los Angeles Times Calendar, August 4, 1991, P.16
  29. ^ Stuart Klawans, The Nation, August 4, 1991,P.16
  30. ^ Georgia Brown, Village Voice, August 4, 1991, P.16
  31. ^ Terry Kelleher, Newsday, August 4, 1991, P.16
  32. ^ John Hartl,Seattle Times, August 4, 1991, P.16
  33. ^ Bruce Williamson, Playboy, August 4, 1991, P.16
  34. ^ Robin Adam Sloan, Boston Globe, August 4, 1991, P.16
  35. ^ Janet Maslin, The New York Times, September 12, 1992, P.F5
  36. ^ David Sheehan,KNBC-TV Los Angeles, September 12, 1992, P.F5
  37. ^ Bob Healy, Satellite News Network/KBIG Radio , September 12, 1992, P.F5
  38. ^ Jeff Craig, 60 Second Preview, September 12, 1992, P.F5
  39. ^ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/strutter/strutter-a-film-by-allison-anders-and-kurt-voss/description
  40. ^ Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette, "DIY To The Last Note", September 28, 2013, P.E4
  41. ^ Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette, "DIY To The Last Note", September 28, 2013, P.E4
  42. ^ Brendan Kelly, Montreal Gazette, "DIY To The Last Note", September 28, 2013, P.E4
  43. ^ Steve Appleford, Los Angeles Times, "Allison Anders and Kurt Voss Keep the Music Playing", April 13, 2013, P.D3
  44. ^ Steve Appleford, Los Angeles Times, "Allison Anders and Kurt Voss Keep the Music Playing", April 13, 2013, P.D3
  45. ^ Florian Kummert, Tracks, Arte-TV, November 2, 2012.
  46. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/strutter-munich-film-review-348601
  47. ^ http://www.filmfest-muenchen.de/en/festival/profil/filmfest-highlights/highlights-2012/momente-2012/momente-2012/24
  48. ^ http://popmontreal.com/events-tickets/strutter-allison-anders-liveen-personne/
  49. ^ http://www.shatterjapan.com/tag/strutter/
  50. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25th_Tokyo_International_Film_Festival
  51. ^ https://vimeo.com/102313687
  52. ^ http://www.sadistichands.com/
  53. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sadistic-hands/id946194543
  54. ^ http://www.amazon.com/Sadistic-Hands/dp/B00QLW3QI4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1435814641&sr=8-1&keywords=Sadistic+Hands
  55. ^ http://www.tokyoweekender.com/2013/09/september-movie-releases-in-japan-wolverine-unforgiven-and-more/
  56. ^ http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2014/07/strutter_screens_this_saturday_at_the_frida_an_interview_with_allison_anders_and_kurt_voss.php
  57. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245501/awards
  58. ^ David Fricke, Rolling Stone Magazine, March 4, 2004, P.65
  59. ^ David Fricke, Rolling Stone Magazine March 4, 2004, p. 65
  60. ^ BBC RADIO ONE - home page - Peel Tracklistings http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/johnpeel/tracklistings/peel_archive_shtml.shtml?20040302
  61. ^ Kris Needs, Record Collector Magazine, Sept 2009, p. 84
  62. ^ Hindi Guns in Buzzbands, 2009 http://www.buzzbands.la/2009/12/22/popular-with-me-2009-my-favorite-albums/
  63. ^ https://plus.google.com/100599123206694498828/posts?hl=en
  64. ^ http://www.sadistichands.com
  65. ^ http://www.sadistichands.com
  66. ^ http://www.sadistichands.com

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