“Y'all wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out???????? It's kind of long but full of suspense.” — @_zolarmoon
Based on the infamous 2015 Twitter thread by A’Ziah ‘Zola’ King, Janicza Bravo’s Zola chronicles a 72-hour fever dream of a road trip in search of a quick fortune in Florida. After meeting Stefani (Riley Keough) during a waitressing shift, Zola (an inimitable Taylour Paige) and Stefani become fast friends. So fast that Zola agrees to join Stefani, her milquetoast boyfriend and their ‘roommate’ on an impromptu trip to Tampa the very next day to turn a quick buck in the local strip clubs. What’s the worst that could happen?
In David Kushner’s viral Rolling Stone article, Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted, Zola admitted to embellishing the more sensational details for entertainment value, but the core of this sordid tale remains true – though the parties involved have spun their side of the story in other corners of the internet, which the film nods to in a hilarious and bizarre cut-away moment. For Bravo, A’Ziah’s story provided "an entry point into something that maybe is too intimidating or too scary to even touch… She had us all having a conversation about something that we don't usually talk about because it's pretty easy to look away from."
A love letter to modern technology and retro cinema, it’s Spring Breakers meets Tangerine (NZIFF 2015) with a dash of 70s Blaxploitation. Zola is a compelling, wild, outrageous and, at times, upsetting work of comedy that is well worth the ride. — Kailey Carruthers