Allison Anders at the 61st Annual Peabody Awards (2002)
Mary Allison Anders
November 16, 1954
|Alma mater||UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television|
|Known for||Gas Food Lodging|
Mi Vida Loca
Grace of My Heart
Allison Anders (born November 16, 1954) is an American independent film director whose films include Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca and Grace of My Heart. Anders has collaborated with fellow UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television graduate Kurt Voss and has also worked as a television director. Anders' films have been shown at the Cannes International Film Festival and at the Sundance Film Festival. She has been awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant as well as a Peabody Award.
Anders was born in Ashland, Kentucky, to mother Alberta "Rachel" Anders (née Steed) and father Robert "Bob" Anders. She has four sisters, one of whom, Luanna Anders, starred in her first film, Border Radio. One of her sisters is Dominique Steed née Du Bois, the daughter of Louis Ernesto Gomez-Moncalleno Du Bois.
Her paternal side has ancestry that traces back to the Southern Hatfield family and, more distantly, to George Washington's spy, Caleb Brewster, while her maternal side includes another Washington spy, Abraham Woodhull.
When Anders was 4 years old, her father abandoned the family. Anders' mother and father were divorced when she was 5. At age 12, she was gang raped by three boys at a party in Cape Canaveral, Florida, an event that influenced several of her films. After her mother moved her and her sisters to Los Angeles, Anders suffered a mental breakdown at the age of 15 and was hospitalized. When she came out of the psychiatric ward, she was placed into foster care but ran away. She hitchhiked across the country, at one point ending up in jail. After turning 17, Anders dropped out of her Los Angeles high school and moved back to Kentucky. She later moved to London with the man who fathered her first child.
In her early 20s, Anders moved back to Los Angeles with her daughter and attended junior college, Los Angeles Valley College, while working odd jobs. Due to constant relocation as a child, Anders had not had a steady education. She said that growing up, most of her time was spent watching TV and going to movie theaters. Inspired by the films of Wim Wenders and other filmmakers, Anders applied to UCLA Film School. During her time at UCLA, Anders produced her first sound film. Wenders attended the screening. In 1986, Anders got her B.A. in Motion Picture-Television from University of California Los Angeles.
In 1986, Anders won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for a script called Lost Highway that she wrote about her father. She said that after writing the script she shared it with her father, and was able to have a relationship with him again.
Anders' first film, the punk music-heavy Border Radio, was co-written and co-directed with Kurt Voss and Dean Lent and was made while they were at UCLA. It was nominated for Best Feature of 1988 by the Independent Feature Project for Best First Feature. The film told the story of three musicians who stole money owed to them from a job and then fled to Mexico. The story is set amid the Los Angeles punk-rock scene of the 1980s. With a $2,000 contribution from actor Vic Tayback and loans from Voss's parents to fund the film, the filmmakers made up for the small budget by using local locations and casting performers they knew. For the starring role, they cast Anders' sister, Luanna Anders, and musician Chris D., as the leading man, as well as Anders' daughter, Devon Anders, who played Luanna's daughter in the film. Violating UCLA policy, the filmmakers cut the film at night in the school's editing bays, while Anders' two young daughters slept on the floor. In 2007, Border Radio was given a special release on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection and was lauded as groundbreaking independent cinema.
Anders' second feature, the 1992 film Gas Food Lodging, earned her a New York Film Critics Circle Award and National Society of Film Critics honors for Best New Director; and nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Director. Actress Fairuza Balk won a Spirit Award for her role in the film. The film also won the Deauville Film Festival Critics Award and was also nominated for the Golden Bear at the 42nd Berlin International Film Festival. Gas Food Lodging is a coming-of-age story about a truck stop waitress and her two daughters, three vibrant, restless women in an isolated Western town. The screenplay was loosely adapted by Anders from the novel Don't Look and It Won't Hurt by Richard Peck.
Her next film, Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life), was 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. The story features a female perspective on growing up in the inner city.
Anders' 1996 film, Grace of My Heart, was a musical drama executive produced by Martin Scorsese, about a songwriter (played by Illeana Douglas) and her career over several years, including work in the early 1960s in music publishing and production offices, a setting based on the Brill Building. This marriage to a songwriting partner and her emergence as a singer-songwriter in the 1970s are among elements paralleling the career of Carole King, but the film is neither a biography nor entirely fiction. The original soundtrack features new songs written in various styles of the era. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach had their first collaboration composing a song for the film, "God Give Me Strength," and were nominated for a Grammy Award.
In the late 1980s, Anders had become friends with members of 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 and Voss co-wrote and co-directed Sugar Town, about the Los Angeles film and music industry. The film starred several musical friends of Anders', including Taylor, X singer John Doe, Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp, and singer/actor Michael Des Barres. 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, is working as an assistant to production designer Liz (Ally Sheedy); when Gwen discovers Liz has a date with a music producer (Larry Klein), any loyalty she has to her boss disappears. The film received two Independent Spirit Award nominations, for Best Film and Best Newcomer (Jade Gordon). The film also won Anders and Voss the Fantasporto award for Best Screenplay.
Her 2001 autobiographical film, Things Behind the Sun, deals with the long-term aftermath of rape. It was released on the Showtime cable TV network. The film earned an Emmy nomination for actor Don Cheadle as Best Supporting Actor; and three Independent Spirit Award nominations: Cheadle for Best Supporting Actor, Kim Dickens for Best Actress, and Best Film. Anders and co-writer Kurt Voss also received a nomination for an Edgar Award. The film was awarded the SHINE Award as well as the Peabody Award. Things Behind the Sun was inspired by an experience Anders had in 1967 when she was raped by group of boys. Anders actually shot some of the film in the same location in Cocoa Beach, Florida, where the gang rape occurred.
Anders' 2012 film, Strutter, co-directed with Voss, completed a loose trilogy of films about Southern California musicians that began with Border Radio and Sugar Town. A black-and-white road picture, the film featured Luanna Anders from Border Radio, a scene in the motel room where Gram Parsons died, and a score with music by Ariel Pink and J Mascis. The film was funded by a Kickstarter campaign.
In 2013, Anders released the Lifetime-produced TV movie Ring of Fire, a June Carter Cash biopic that featured the musician Jewel. The film was inspired by John Carter Cash's book, Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash.
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 2011, she directed an episode of the John Wells production, Southland, which involved a car chase scene. Anders directed an episode of Turn: Washington's Spies, which was especially interesting to her because she has distant relatives on both sides of her family who were spies for George Washington.
In 2013, Anders interviewed 94-year-old actress and Hollywood legend Marge Champion, who appeared at a 2013 Hollywood film festival screening of 1968 cult film The Swimmer, which starred Burt Lancaster. The interview was featured among behind-the-scenes supplementary material on a 2014 Blu-ray/DVD release of the film by Grindhouse Releasing/Box Office Spectaculars Blu-ray/DVD restoration of the film.
Anders and her musician daughter, Tiffany Anders, started the Don't Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival in 2003 in Los Angeles.
In 2013, Anders bid on and won a rock and roll record collection formerly owned by the actress Greta Garbo. She created a website called "Greta's Records" to curate and share the collection of 50 records.
In development / past projects
Anders counts filmmaker Wim Wenders as a mentor. She started as a fan, sending him letters and music, and Wenders eventually responded. Anders said that she created a faux grant that she "won" so that she and at least one other friend could study under Wenders on location for his film Paris, Texas. They have been friends for over 30 years.
In 2003, Anders became a Distinguished Professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, where she teaches in the Film And Media Studies Department one quarter each year. She has taught courses on topics including autobiographic writing, rock and roll films, and music supervision.
- 1986: Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting – Lost Highway
- 1986: Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards – Lost Highway
- 1988: Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature – Border Radio
- 1992: New York Film Critics Circle for Best New Director – Gas Food Lodging
- 1992: National Society of Film Critics for Best New Director – Gas Food Lodging
- 1992: Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay nomination – Gas Food Lodging
- 1992: Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director nomination – Gas Food Lodging
- 1995: MacArthur Fellows Program
- 2001: Independent Spirit Award for Best Film nomination – Things Behind the Sun
- 2002: Spirit of Silver Lake Award from the Silver Lake Film Festival
- 2002: Peabody Award for distinguished achievement and meritorious service – Things Behind the Sun
- 2013: Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing of a Drama nomination – Ring of Fire
Anders has three children. Her two daughters are Tiffany Anders, a musician and music supervisor, and Devon Anders. Her son, Ruben Goodbear Anders, was fostered (and eventually adopted) by the Anders family for three years after the death of his mother, Nica Rogers, who appeared in Mi Vida Loca. Tiffany was named after the film Breakfast at Tiffany's.
|1984||Paris, Texas||Production Assistant|
|1987||Border Radio||Yes||Yes||Nominated – Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature 1988|
|1992||Gas Food Lodging||Yes||Yes||Screenplay|
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 Screenplay 1992
Nominated – Independent Spirit Awards for Best Director 1992
|1993||Mi Vida Loca||Yes||Yes|
|1995||Four Rooms – Segment: "The Missing Ingredient"||Yes||Yes|
|1996||Grace of My Heart||Yes||Yes|
|1997||Lover Girl||Yes||Executive Producer|
|1999||Sugar Town||Yes||Yes||Written by; Co-directed with Kurt Voss|
|2001||Things Behind the Sun||Yes||Yes|
|2002||In the Echo (TV movie)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Written by; Producer; Costume designer|
|2007||The Pacific and Eddy||Yes||Executive Producer|
|2009||Until the Very Last Moment||Yes||Short; Executive Producer|
|2011||A Crush on You (TV movie)||Yes|
|The Lie||Acted, playing Allison|
|2012||Strutter||Yes||Yes||Yes||Written by; Producer|
|2013||Ring of Fire (TV movie)||Yes||Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing of a Drama 2013|
|Rock N Roll Mamas (documentary)||Yes||Executive Producer|
|2014||I Believe in Unicorns||Yes||Executive Producer|
- 1999: Sex and the City – Director, 4 episodes: "The Caste System," "La Donleur Exquise," "Drama Queen," "The Big Time"
- 2000: Grosse Pointe – Director, 2 episodes: "Boys on the Side," "Star Wars"
- 2004: Cold Case – Director, 1 episode: "Volunteers"
- 2006: The L Word – Director, 1 episode: "Last Dance"
- 2006: Men in Trees – Director, 1 episode: "Power Shift"
- 2006: What About Brian – Director, 2 episodes: "What About First Steps," "What About the True Confessions?"
- 2011: SouthLAnd – Director, 2 episodes: "Sideways," "Fallout"
- 2013: The Mentalist – Director, 1 episode: "The Red Barn"
- 2014: Orange Is the New Black – Director, 1 episode: "You Also Have a Pizza"
- 2014: Gang Related – Director, 1 episode: "Invierno Cayó"
- 2014: The Divide – Director, 1 episode: "Facts Are the Enemy"
- 2014-2015: Murder in the First – Director, 4 episodes: "Pants on Fire," "Blue on Blue," "The McCormack Mulligan," "Nothing But the Truth"
- 2015: TURN: Washington's Spies – Director, 1 episode: "False Flag"
- 2015: Proof – Director, 1 episode: "Memento Vivere"
- 2017: Time After Time – Director, 1 episode: "Suitcases of Memories"
- 2017: Riverdale – Director, 2 episodes: "Chapter Seven: In a Lonely Place", "Chapter Fifteen: Nighthawks"
- 2017: Graves – Director, 1 episode "The Opposite of People"
- 2018: Sorry for Your Loss – Director, 1 episode: "Visitor"
- 2019: Mayans MC – Director, 1 episode: “Kukuklan”
Works and publications
- Anders, Allison. "On Claudia Weill's film 'Girlfriends.'" Sight & Sound. Vol. 25 (10). London: British Film Institute, October 2015. ISSN 0037-4806
- Swartley, Ariel (19 September 1999). "Film; Certified Genius, With a Tatoo [sic]". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "The Monster That Ate Hollywood: Interview - Allison Anders". Frontline. PBS. 22 November 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Allison Anders, Professor of Film & Media Studies". University of California Santa Barbara. Archived from the original on 6 October 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Mary A Anders - Kentucky, Vital Record Indexes". FamilySearch. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Allison, Anders (21 June 2015). "Real Gone Daddy". Blitter Baroque: workbook y public diary de Allison Anders. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Luanna Anders - Kentucky, Vital Record Indexes". FamilySearch. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "The Monster That Ate Hollywood (Program #2007)". Frontline. PBS. 22 November 2001. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Stone, Judy (30 September 1992). "Tough Road To Acclaim Allison Anders, Raped At 12, Catatonic For A Year, Has Seen Her Fortunes Change. Her Survival Tale "Gas Food Lodging" Won Fame In Film Festivals. Today It's Back In Town". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Mercurio, James P. (1996). "Contemporary Melodrama: Interview with Allison Anders". Creative Screenwriting. 3 (4). pp. 25–28. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Notable Winners: Allison Anders. First Place, 1986". Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Morris, Chris (15 January 2007). "Border Radio: Where Punk Lived". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Lim, Dennis (19 January 2007). "The fade-out of L.A.'s punk rock scene: 'Border Radio,' a time capsule of underdog mythology, deserves its spot in the history of independent film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "Berlinale: 1992 Programme". Berlinale 1992. 1992. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
- Maslin, Janet (31 July 1992). "Review/Film -- Gas Food Lodging; Rueful Women, Rootless Men In a Dreary Western Town". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Maslin, Janet (13 September 1996). "One Fine Day at the Brill Building". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Maslin, Janet (17 September 1999). "Film Review; A Los Angeles Snapshot Of Ashrams and Ambition". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Rooney, David (28 January 2001). "Review: 'Things Behind The Sun'". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Espinoza, Galina; Wang, Cynthia (27 August 2001). "Nightmare Revisited: Filming in the House Where She Was Raped Helped Allison Anders Heal". People. 56 (9). Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Weintraub, Bernard (7 August 2001). "Assault as Autobiography; A Filmmaker Draws on Her Memories of Being Raped at 12". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Harvey, Dennis (18 October 2012). "Review: 'Strutter'". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Anders, Allison. ""Strutter" a film by Allison Anders & Kurt Voss". Kickstarter. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Morris, Christopher (22 May 2013). "Allison Anders, Jewel Sing June Carter Cash's Praises". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- SouthLAnd First (5 March 2012). "Exclusive interview with "Fallout" director Allison Anders". SouthLAnd First. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
- Dursin, Andy (24 March 2014). "Aisle Seat 3-25: The Swimmer, Wolf of Wall Street". Film Score Monthly. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Markowitz, Andy (28 August 2013). "Allison and Tiffany Anders: Don't Knock the Rock, Around the Clock". Musicfilmweb. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- "Greta's Records By Allison Anders". Greta's Records By Allison Anders. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Graham, Terry (29 January 2008). "Letters From Readers – April 2008 – Wild West: Quanah Quest". HistoryNet. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Schneider, Michael; Adalian, Josef (19 December 2007). "Cabler AMC to build on drama success". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Anders, Allison; Wenders, Wim (9 September 2015). "Allison Anders (Grace of My Heart) Talks with Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas) for The Talkhouse Film Podcast". The Talkhouse. Archived from the original on 17 September 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
- Anders, Allison. "Alison Anders' Letter". Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- "MacArthur Fellows: Meet the Class of 1995: Allison Anders, Filmmaker, Los Angeles, California". MacArthur Foundation. 1 July 1995. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
- Variety Staff (16 August 2013). "'Ring of Fire': Emmy Nominee Allison Anders on a Jewel of a Composition". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Cobo-Hanlon, Leila (21 July 1994). "Another Side of the 'Crazy Life' : Although flattered to see themselves on screen, for many Echo Park youths, the depiction of their lives in 'Mi Vida Loca' may be true but it misses the untold stories of compassion and understanding". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Archerd, Army (12 September 1995). "Pols vie for spots on 'Murphy Brown'". Variety. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Brett, Anwar (25 March 1995). "Making Life Into Movies: Anwar Brett meets a rare film director who downplays the violence of her characters' lives". The Independent. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
- Anders, Allison, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino. "Strange Brew." Four Rooms: Four Friends Telling Four Stories Making One Film. London: Faber and Faber, 1996. ISBN 978-0-571-17684-7 OCLC 797629367
- Roman, Shari. "Allison Anders." Digital Babylon: Hollywood, Indiewood & Dogme 95. Hollywood: Lone Eagle, 2001. pp. 142–144. ISBN 978-1-580-65036-6 OCLC 464743610
- White-Stanley, Debra. 2003. ""God Give Me Strength": The Melodramatic Sound Tracks of Director Allison Anders". Velvet Light Trap. 51, no. 1: pp. 54–66. ISSN 0149-1830 doi:10.1353/vlt.2003.0012 OCLC 704028308
- Murphy, J. J. "Shifting Goals and Plotlines in Gas Food Lodging." Me and You and Memento and Fargo How Independent Screenplays Work. New York: Continuum, 2007. ISBN 978-0-826-42804-2 OCLC 651772634
- Campbell, Neil. "The Idioms of Living: Donna Deitch and Allison Anders." Post-Westerns Cinema, Region, West. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013. pp. 272–304. ISBN 978-1-461-93720-3 OCLC 856584709
- Silverstein, Melissa. "On 'Gas Food Lodging.'" Sight & Sound. Vol. 25 (10). London: British Film Institute, October 2015. ISSN 0037-4806
Audio visual material
- Mori, Mark, and Alec Baldwin. "Allison Anders; David O Russell." Raw Footage. Pt. 6. Santa Monica, CA: Direct Cinema Ltd, 2008. Video. Original air date: 1996. ISBN 978-1-559-74798-1 OCLC 651047709
- Calabrese, Peter, Tamara Gould, Jack Walsh, Xandra Castleton, Alexis Lezin, Danny L. McGuire, Gregory Nava, Allison Anders, and Michael Fox. Independent View. San Francisco, CA: KQED, 2001. Video. OCLC 55072014
- DiPersio, Vince, Adam Bardach, Alan Smithee, Tony Kahn, William Hooke, Michael H. Amundson, Steve Audette, and Michael Bloecher. "The Monster That Ate Hollywood." Frontline. PBS. Season 19, Episode 18. 2015. Video. Original air date: November 22, 2001. OCLC 891699575
- Maslin, Janet, John Waters, Allison Anders, Hal Hartley, David O. Russell. Four Independents That Turned the Tide. 2006. Video. Videotaped at the BAMcafe, Brooklyn, NY, as part of the Sundance Institute at BAM season, May 21, 2006. OCLC 123421251