Many filmmakers recount a childhood spent in movie theaters, munching popcorn and soaking in blockbusters, or glued to the TV watching old movies.
Zoe Lister-Jones’ movie upbringing was more esoteric, but she fell in love with movies, nonetheless.
“My mother is a video artist so she exposed me to really obscure, bleak films all the time,” deadpans Lister-Jones. “So I think my rebellion to her was watching cheesy rom-coms. She was so distraught when I loved ‘Dirty Dancing.’ She was like, ‘What have I done?’”
Today Lister-Jones is best known to audiences for the TV show “Life in Pieces.” Her directorial debut, “Band Aid,” was released earlier this year. She picked an eclectic group of “Women on Top” films: “Run Lola Run,” “Girlfight,” and “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel.”
“Women overcoming obstacles against all odds usually moves me really deeply. It’s something that I relate to, and it’s something we don’t see often enough on screen,” she said.
“Run Lola Run” shaped her as a tween, she explains. As a 12-year-old, she was inspired by Lola’s rebellious look, and dressed herself in Doc Martens and polyester thrift-store pants. “I shaved my head,” she says, “which is not Lola. My mother took me to get my head shaved, so that’ll tell you something about our relationship.” But even as a grown woman, Lister-Jones is inspired by Lola. “She’s ultimately in charge of saving her boyfriend, rather than the opposite way around, which is already a subversive in terms of the storytelling.”
She came later to “Girlfight,” the story of a female boxer, seeing it for the first time only recently. The climactic scene where Michelle Rodriguez has to fight her lover “brought me to tears,” she says. “Boxing is such a dance and when they have to get really intimate with each other and it is mixed with violence and fear and love.”
In “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” about the legendary magazine editor who helped redefine the culture’s ideas of beauty, Lister-Jones sees someone who was already living her vision before she was discovered. “I think a woman on top expresses herself uniquely and in surprising, unpredictable ways, and is not afraid of retribution for being herself,” says Lister-Jones.
To watch Lister-Jones’ “Women on Top” films, “Run Lola Run,” “Girlfight,” and “Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,”* and other movies like these, start your Tribeca Shortlist free, seven-day trial here.
*Titles subject to availability