Here’s why everyone’s talking about Zola, the movie based on a Twitter thread
After it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, Janicza Bravo’s Zola is finally releasing in theatres. The film stars Taylour Paige and Riley Keough and is based on a 148-tweet thread by a dancer/waitress who gets into trouble during a road trip to Florida. This modern-day biopic by A24 has got Gen-Z audiences talking since this is the first movie to have a screenplay, based on a social media log by a single person.
Paige plays A’Ziah “Zola” King, who originally authored said thread in 2015 as she decided to take a road trip to Florida with a sex worker friend named Stefani (Keough), her boyfriend Derrek (Nicholas Braune), and her sketchy roommate X (Colman Domingo).
“When I read #TheStory first on Twitter in 2015, I went after it soon after I had read it. I had done my dramaturgical digging, and I came across the “Stefani” of our story—the real person—[telling] their version of it on Reddit. And “Derrek”—Nicholas Braun—that real person told their version on Facebook, and there were a lot of similarities. There was a lot of overlap between all three stories. I really wanted there to be Stefani’s version mainly because, in addendum to finding those pieces, almost every article that existed at the time had questioned the validity of A’Ziah’s story,” Bravo said recently in an interview.
The film is also being applauded for addressing the subject of female agency, since Zola as a whole is being touted as a commentary on exploitation. In the thread and the movie, Zola and Stefani are accompanied on a road trip by the latter’s roommate X (named Z in the movie), played by Domingo. It's later revealed that he aids Stefani in her work as a prostitute and might actually be quite dangerous and has quite a few altercations with Zola.
Zola screenwriter Jeremy O.Harris who is a Tony Award-nominated thespian revealed in an interview that he and Bravo were committed to staying true to the now-deleted Twitter thread, which was also a chronicle of Zola and Stefani’s friendship. “PSA: #Zola is meant to be experienced the way one would experience the film adaptation of one of the better pieces of required reading from your high school/college syllabus. Come to it with fond memories, reread it, or keep smiling and pretend you read it as you enjoy the film,” he wrote on Twitter recently.