Can it be a quarter of a century since Allison Anders’ gritty Gas, Food Lodging was the talk of Sundance? (That is, until Reservoir Dogs also screened in competition a couple nights later and a scene involving a straight razor hijacked the conversation.) The Kentucky-born filmmaker survived an appalling childhood and a miserable adolescence before escaping to London and, as a single mother, Los Angeles. Knocked out by a lengthy magazine profile of Wim Wenders and his philosophy of filmmaking, she wrote him letter after letter until he gave her a job as a production assistant on Paris, Texas.
Anders made her feature debut with the no-budget cult sensation Border Radio (1987), featuring X members John Doe and Dave Alvin and written and directed with a couple of film school classmates. Gas, Food Lodging (1992), about a mother and her teenage daughters in nowheresville New Mexico, was based on a Richard Peck novel that Anders infused with the feeling of autobiography.
Anders followed that success with Mi Vida Loca (1993), an original screenplay made up of three interrelated stories based on her conversations with Chicana gang members in her Echo Park neighborhood. A vibrant mix of harsh reality and yearning romanticism, the movie employs a mix of non-professional and professional actors. Mi Vida Loca marked the first film about Latinas while continuing Anders’ exploration of the ways in which women need—and don’t need—men. Alamo Drafthouse flies Anders up from Los Angeles to show and discuss Mi Vida Loca at 7pm on Tuesday, June 19. The theater is showing a French-subtitled print, an oddity that kind of fits with the director’s improbable, unpredictable career.