In 2015, a series of Tweets — 148 of them to be exact — posted by A’Ziah Wells King and relaying the story of a trip from Detroit, Michigan to Tampa, Florida that went horribly wrong, went viral as people quickly grew entranced by the events that included kidnapping, a shooting, sex trafficking and a suicide attempt.
The thread, known as #TheStory also described how King’s friendship with a woman named “Jessica” led her on the now-infamous road trip, along with Jessica’s boyfriend Jarrett and her pimp “Z”.
While for many #TheStory was the perfect watercooler fodder, filmmaker Janicza Bravo saw its potential for one hell of a movie.
That movie — Zola — made its worldwide premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020 and will now be landing in Australian cinemas on September 23, 2021.
Starring Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Colman Domingo and Nicholas Braun, the official synopsis for the film explains that when Zola (Paige), a Detroit waitress, strikes up a new friendship with a customer, Stefani (Keough), the latter seduces her to join a weekend of dancing and partying in Florida. What at first seems like a glamorous trip full of “hoeism” rapidly transforms into a 48-hour journey involving a nameless pimp, an idiot boyfriend, some Tampa gangsters and other unexpected adventures in this wild, see-it-to-believe-it tale.
Speaking to The New York Times, Bravo explained why she had been so compelled to make the film, saying, “I was like, I am the best director for this, and when I say that, people think I’m saying that I’m the best because I’m Black and a woman, and I’m like, Sure, of course, that doesn’t hurt.”
“But I’m the best director for this because when I read that story, I was like, This is a traumatised woman who used the power of the pen and the power of her humour to recontextualise that which changed her.”
You can also check out the trailer below.