Director Allison Anders is angry about many things, including the oppressed status of women in Hollywood.
She told the 11/19/98 Back Stage West: "It scared me the day I realized that I was part of an elite few, worldwide--I could count them on my fingers--and that I was part of that elite few who was lucky enough to get to make more than one movie.
"African-American women? Latina women? Asian-American women? Forget it. They do not make a second film. It's almost like people go, "Oh, we heard that voice already.'"
From Entertainment Weekly 7/22/94: "Anders says she was sexually abused throughout her childhood by a number of different men, and raped at age 12 by some teenagers. A stepfather's violence escalated until one night he held a gun to her head. She ran away more than once, and at 15, when her favorite Beatle was rumored to be dead, she escaped her home life by retreating into a fantasy relationship with "dead Paul"-hence the inspiration for Paul Is Dead. "That world got me to a safe place. It got me into mental hospitals," she says without irony. "And it taught me my craft- learning to make people who aren't really there stand up and talk."
"At 17, she dropped out of high school in L.A., where her mother had settled. Heading back to Kentucky to live with relatives, she met an English philosophy student on a Greyhound bus and followed him to London, where she worked as a barmaid until she got pregnant. When he didn't want her to have the baby, Anders returned to L.A. to go it alone and got by on welfare and waitressing. She started junior college, then had another baby, and then went back to college, where she wrote a fan letter to director Wim Wenders that sparked a correspondence and culminated in an internship on Wenders' Paris, Texas. She made her debut in 1988 by codirecting the cult hit Border Radio with then lover and fellow UCLA alum Kurt Voss. Four years later, Gas Food Lodging debuted at the Sundance Film Festival."
Anders was a single mom on welfare before entering UCLA's graduate film program and making 1992's Gas Food Lodging.
In her movie Mi Vida Loca, Anders made sure a character named El Duran got gunned down. That was her way of dealing with a relationship she had years ago with Duran Duran's John Taylor, who did music for the film.
Anders spent years unsuccessfully seeking financing for Paul Is Dead, an autobiographical look at mentall illness and sexual abuse.
Allison says Hugh Grant called her in 1993 after reading Paul, and said, "Brilliant! There's nothing on earth I want to do more." Anders lined up financing for the film. Then in April, a month before shooting was to start, Anders got a fax from Grant. "He bailed," she says. And her financing bailed with him. ("I'm very regretful," Grant says through a spokesman.)
"It was a betrayal. Very wicked. Now, everywhere I go, there's f ---ing Hugh Grant's face. It's just like a knife in my heart." (Entertainment Weekly, 7/22/94)
Her script Things Behind the Sun was finally made into a movie (with Anders directing) and distributed in 2001. Many financiers, however, were disturbed by the darkness of the film.
"I was attached to a number of things and I was just waiting endlessly, and I was very despondent about the way things were going. People are too happy to make a comedy about a child molester [referring to Todd Solondz's "Happiness"], but they will not make a serious film about rape. Do I have resentments about that? You better believe I do."
Anders has anger about many things.
"The only place for women directors in this system is to not have personal vision; to do very big-budget romantic comedies or broad comedies. Even someone like Katherine Bigelow (Strange Days) has a monstrously difficult time making a film she wants to make because she's a woman with a very big vision, and a very expensive vision, usually." (Back Stage West, 11/19/98)
Born in Ashland, Kentucky, 11/16/54, "Anders weathered a rough childhood and young adult life which not only encouraged an escapist penchant for making up characters but also an insider's sympathy for the strong but put-upon women who people her films," according to her biography on Imdb.com. "Growing up in rural Kentucky, Anders would always remember hanging onto her father's leg at age five as he abandoned her family. Traveling frequently with her mother and sisters, Anders would later be [gang] raped at age 12, endure abuse from a stepfather who once threatened her with a gun, and suffer a mental breakdown at age 15. Venturing back to Kentucky from Los Angeles at 17, she would soon move to London to live with the man who would father her first child.
"Upon her return to the US, Anders finally began to pick up the pieces of her life. She enrolled in junior college and later the UCLA film school and managed when a second daughter came along. Enchanted with Wim Wenders' films, she so deluged the filmmaker with correspondence that he gave her a job as a production assistant on his PARIS, TEXAS (1984). After graduating from UCLA, Anders made her feature writing and directing debut, BORDER RADIO (1987), a study of the LA punk scene, in collaboration with two former classmates. Her first solo effort, GAS FOOD LODGING (1992), telling of a single mother and her two teenage daughters, and her followup, MI VIDA LOCA (1994)/MY CRAZY LIFE, looking at girl gangs in the Echo Park neighborhood of LA where Anders settled, have shown her to be a deeply personal filmmaker who has used her own experience to make grittily realistic, well-observed, gently ambling studies of women coming of age amid tough, sterile social conditions."
From People magazine 8/27/01: Filming in the house where she was raped helped Allison Anders heal
Alone one night in her Manhattan hotel room five years ago, filmmaker Allison Anders prepared to throw away a decade of sobriety. Lining up liquor bottles she had pulled from the minibar, Anders convinced herself that getting drunk was the only way to dull the anguish she still suffered over being gang-raped at age 12. "I'd been in therapy, I'd been in several mental hospitals, I'd worked on getting over it for years," she says. "But I hit a crisis."
A phone call to her mother helped her resist temptation. It also led to a breakthrough. "I was like, 'All right, I gotta do something,'" says Anders, now 46. "'I gotta go back there.'"
"There" was the single-story house in Cocoa Beach, Fla., where, in spring 1967, Anders was hanging out in the living room with a group of neighborhood kids, including three brothers whose parents owned the house but were away. Without warning, the boys forced Anders into a bedroom, where she was attacked. They were never arrested--in part, says Anders, because she was too ashamed to tell anyone (even her own mother, who didn't find out until years later).
The fictionalized story of an aspiring rock singer, Sun includes a graphic gang-rape scene--filmed in the very house where Anders was attacked.