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Monday, November 2, 2009

Viva (Cult Epics 2008)
a film by Anna Biller

byDC Larson

To experience delightful sexploitation comedy Viva is to be immersed in arch-stylized 1970s cuts and colors. Indeed, all involved are enthusiastically aboard the technicolored retro train: loud, gaudy ensembles, feathered, fluffed, and lovingly laquered tresses, calculatedly cardboardish (and always effective) acting, the moment's pop culture-choreographed, hipness-ho posturing.

Panache radiates in neon.

Important to Viva's sensory effect as syle is, though, the saucy narrative scores its substantial points through clever plot-craft. Anna Biller as forsaken and frustrated "Barbie" dips a bared toe into the Sexual Revolution, only to be swirled away into its swinging maelstrom of drugs, modeling, delicious licentiousness, and hidden personal costs.

With impressive flair, Anna sported multiple hats in the construction. Writer, director, set and costume designer, starring actor. (She also composes, choreographs, and edits.)

During a post-screening interview, Anna was asked why she had decided to make the fim."I wanted to do a realistic story about a woman who's a scapegoat of the sexual revolution," she responded. "[Someone] who endures everything in the name of being liberated. She's just going with the flow, and it's such a dangerous and demonic world of predators out there, and she's completely unprotected. I thought it was very funny and also a very real kind of story."

Anna claims a BA in art from UCLA and an MFA in art and film from CalArts. While the impressive Viva is her first feature, audiences already know her from several short films and stage musicals; both have been shown at international festivals and art spaces.

Awards Anna has received for Viva include Best Style in a film at the Moscow Film Festival (Vogue magazine), and Best Director, Atlanta Underground Film Festival.(Viva's more than 30 other festival selections include the B Movie, Trash, and Underground Film Festival, the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, the Transylvania International Fim Festival, and the San Antonio Underground Film Festival.)

Like the mini-skirted era Anna affectionately sculpts, Viva looks stunning while flirting with fleshly perils.

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