Raised in rural Kentucky, Anders spent her teens hitchhiking across the country, resulting in a series of adventures that often ended in jails and foster homes -- experiences she credits with giving her raw inspiration for her cinematic portraits of rural Americans.
While raising her children in Los Angeles, she worked as a waitress and enrolled in UCLA Film School, where she won several prestigious awards including the $20,000 Nicholas Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; and the Samuel Goldwyn Award for her screenplay, Lost Highway (unrelated to David Lynch's later film of the same name).
While at UCLA, Anders was mentored by famed German director Wim Wenders during production of his acclaimed feature Paris, Texas. (They had met through her obsessive, insane fan mail to him.)
Also while at UCLA, Anders co-directed (with Sugar Town co-director Kurt Voss) Border Radio, about the dark world of the Los Angeles punk rock scene, co-written with then-fellow students Kurt Voss and Dean Lent. Made for only $50,000, Border Radio (starring John Doe of Sugar Town) received an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Feature of 1989.
In 1989, Anders was approached by Cineville Productions to make a paperback novel, Don't Look and It Won't Hurt, into a film. After Anders reworked the story and characters, the project was made as Gas Food Lodging (1992). The film, starring Brooke Adams, Ione Skye, and Fairuza Balk, had its American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival; and its international premiere in the main competition at the Berlin Film Festival. For her performance, Fairuza Balk received the Independent Spirit Award for Best Actress, while Anders was honored by the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best New Director.
Anders' next film, Mi Vida Loca, which she wrote and directed, had its World Premiere at the 1993 Cannes Film Festival. John Taylor of Sugar Town composed the music for the film.
In 1995, Anders was awarded a coveted MacArthur Fellowship -- the Genius Award.
She was one of four independent filmmakers (Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, and Quentin Tarantino being the others) to direct a segment (hers was The Missing Ingredient, starring Madonna, Sammi Davis, and Ione Skye) of Four Rooms (1995).
Anders next directed, and wrote the screenplay for, Grace of My Heart (1996), starring Illeana Douglas. The music-themed film, which had its World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival, included original songs written by songwriting teams culled from the past and present, among them Elvis Costello with Burt Bacharach. Sugar Town composer Larry Klein composed the music for the film, which was produced by Sugar Town producer Daniel Hassid.
Allison Anders Facts
|November 16, 1954 (69)
|Ashland, Kentucky, USA