Independent filmmaker Allison Anders weathered a rough upbringing that not only encouraged an escapist penchant for making up characters, but also an insider’s sympathy for the strong but put-upon women of her films. She attended film school at UCLA, where she began a correspondence with filmmaker Wim Wenders, who gave her a production assistant job on Paris, Texas (1984).
Anders made her feature co-writing and co-directing debut with the cult hit Border Radio (1988), a black-and-white 16mm study of the L.A. punk scene. Her first solo directing feature, Gas Food Lodging (1992), drew from personal life to tell the compelling story of a single mother and her two teenage daughters. The film earned her multiple award nominations and wins for Best Director. Her 1994 follow-up, Mi vida loca depicts girl gangs in Echo Park, L.A. and showcases Anders’ ability to capture the authenticity of her subjects. Grace of My Heart (1996) teamed the director with Martin Scorsese and his then-girlfriend Illeana Douglas and was Anders’ first attempt at a period piece. Throughout the 2000s, Anders directed a string of features, television movies and television episodes, and she was nominated for an Emmy for directing Ring of Fire.