I wasn’t sure what to expect before speaking to indie-darling director Ana Lily Amirpour. Not that I don’t do my due diligence, but I try to bring a fresh, uncluttered and unbiased mind to most interviews (preferably, mine). Judging from her “Iranian vampire spaghetti western” called A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, I might have guessed she was the personification of Winona Ryder’s character in Beetlejuice.
In fact, Amirpour wonders if such a preconceived notion doesn’t indeed precede her – “I’m always nervous to talk to a hardcore genre type,” she told me, first thing, “because I’m like, ‘Oh, they probably just think [my movie is] boring hipster, emo, arty shit.”
Well, the movie is emo and arty, but whether it is boring and all the rest will be up to broad audiences when it’s released later this week. So far, the movie has only been shown to erudite festival filmgoers, and it’s rating 100% fresh on the good old Tomato-Meter over at RottenTomatoes.com. That’s just one source, Amirpour points out with a laugh, “because if you look at our trailer on YouTube… well, if anybody still believes that there could be world peace, just look at the comments on YouTube and check those out because people are animals!”
Love it or loathe it, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (review) is a singular achievement in that it’s quite original, especially coming from a feature first-timer. Mixing the lush beauty of 60s and 70s vampire art films a la Jean Rollin and Jess Franco, but with the cool, calculated exactitude of someone influenced by Jean-Luc Goddard and Jim Jarmusch, Amirpour still puts something elusively herself into it as well.
Since this movie seems to be coming from such a personal wellspring of artistic inspiration, I asked her if she might someday be open to directing a film someone else wrote. “At this point I have so many things that I’m interested in, and that’s coming from stuff I’m generating myself,” she replied. So it’s not going to happen soon, but she added, “I don’t think that that’s a limitless supply. I don’t know what to head for, there’s so many interesting things. It’s not like we’re inventing things that aren’t created. We’re just recombining things and telling stories in unfamiliar ways that are familiar, though, at the same time. So I’m totally open to that. I think I would have to make it my own. I am a writer. And so I think things have to become your own anyway. But I absolutely would be open to that.”
Here’s more of our quick chat:
Dread Central: Your DP’s [Lyle Vincent] work is very noir on the film. What was it specifically about him that made you want him to shoot for you?
Ana Lily Amirpour: I was getting such a lot of cinematography reels and stuff so I was looking at a bunch of different people’s work. He had a great series of short films called ‘Bright Falls,’ and when I watched them, I felt that they were very Lynchian – they reminded me a lot of Lynch from ‘Twin Peaks’ in particular. And I love David Lynch so I was really into that. Then we met over Skype because he’s New York-based and I’m in L.A.
I’ve worked with a lot of different DP’s on a lot of short films and music videos so I kind of had this promiscuous DP thing going on, you know, and I feel like it’s the most important thing because there’s a lot of people that can make things look pretty, but I think film has [an] inner beauty, and that really comes from the soul of people working together in a certain way. I had this immediate chemistry with him, and we are like soulmates, in a way, creatively. We have a lot of similar cinematic fascinations. We both love Lynch and Sergio Leone and Scorsese, and I spent just hours and hours and hours on Skype with him talking about films, and I just knew he was the one.
DC: Sounds like you might have a collaborator now.
ALA: Yeah. He’s shooting my next film, which I’m doing in the spring.
DC: Oh good. What genre is it?
ALA: It’s in color and English. It’s a desert-set, Texan wasteland and then we’re in a desert and it’s kind of a psychedelic Road Warrior. It’s like a post-apocalyptic, cannibal love story. It’s very violent and very romantic.
DC: Sounds sort of like, maybe El Topo?
ALA: Oh my God. Yes. It’s like El Topo meets Dirty Dancing.
DC: I love it already.
Kino Lorber will release A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night in New York and Los Angeles on November 21st with national expansion to follow.
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night stars Sheila Vand, Arash Marandi, Dominic Rains, Marshall Manesh, Mozhan Marnó, and Milad Eghbali.
Strange things are afoot in Bad City. The Iranian ghost town, home to prostitutes, junkies, pimps, and other sordid souls, is a bastion of depravity and hopelessness where a lonely vampire stalks its most unsavory inhabitants. But when boy meets girl, an unusual love story begins to blossom… blood red.