Zola and The Green Knight: Two Unconventional A24 Releases with Unconventional Source Material — Pizza FM

This summer, A24 released Zola and The Green Knight back-to-back. While different on the surface, there’s a lot to say about them together.

Note: this contains adult conversations about a variety of elements of these two films. TW: SA, Suicide, Sex Trafficking

Art films are slowly, but surely, returning to cinemas despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Like any film nut itching for more movies, I went to two small, socially-distanced showings of recent A24 releases in the past two months. I’d previously covered A24 release The Lighthouse on Pizza FM, so I thought it fitting to discuss Zola and The Green Knight here as well, around their upcoming home media releases.¹

Zola initially released at the end of June; The Green Knight released end of July. Both cover an interestingly similar path of wonky COVID-19 releases, adapting an atypical source material, and of succeeding in creating a more accessible art film. If you’re looking for a TL;DR, both films are decidedly worth the watch, despite the issues they may have.

COVID-19 and Production

After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, any movies slated for theatrical release in 2020 were delayed. A24 was no stranger to COVID-19 rescheduling, pushing back many of their films indefinitely. Luckily, production had finished on both Zola and The Green Knight before March 2020. For Zola, production wrapped on December 7, 2018, with a cut shown at Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020; as for The Green Knight, its production wrapped fast enough to have a cut mostly finished by the time its South by Southwest premiere was cancelled on March 6, 2020.

[Spoilers Ahead]

Another product of the pandemic was extra time to tweak things: Zola potentially had it’s penis montage made tamer for an R-Rating,² and David Lowery recut The Green Knight for six months between the cancellation of its premiere and eventual theatrical release.

Thematic Similarities

Another interesting thing about these two A24 releases is that they are both period pieces, essentially. The Green Knight is obviously so, with its knights, castles, and magic. But the attention to detail on 2015 as a setting in Zola caused Taylour Paige to remark humorously “Zola is a period piece” at the Sundance Q&A, to which director Janicza Bravo jokingly responded, “Correct. The period is 2015.” While the response was likely not meant to be taken seriously, Bravo’s attention to detail regarding the time period was spot-on: habitual use of Vine and Tumblr was something that the characters in Zola enjoyed. Speaking of, the characters, were portrayed in an exaggerated, era-specific, almost period way. Bravo’s discussions about wardrobe and personality in interviews mention a turn to bombasticity to make the characters pop, much like how overdone bravery and honor (or a somewhat lack of those in The Green Knight, more on that later) define a medieval character.

Writing about this makes me realize more and more the similarities present between these two films (that is, besides the fact they’re both named after characters). Zola is an embedded narrative in a three-act structure, where Zola’s call to action is Stefani’s hoe trip invitation. Her trials are the dangers inherent to sex work, succeeding as a pimp, and being caught in an almost literal crossfire. The people surrounding Zola end up feeding the anger surrounding them all, causing disastrous results. It resolves rather tamely, with Zola’s environment becoming so intense that she does what’s best for her own protection: leave, as the audience leaves the story with her.

Sir Gawain in The Green Knight has a similar call to action as a piece in the Green Knight’s Christmas game. He leaves the comfort and safety of his prostitute girlfriend and lackadaisical lifestyle at the behest of the now-headless Green Knight and his uncle, King Arthur himself. Like Zola, the companions he meets along the way also bring trouble, as Gawain loses his supplies and horse. Pushed to desperation, he falls into the care of a Lord and Lady, falling in love with the latter. Present, too, are elements of embedded narrative in Morgan le Fay’s (Gawain’s mother’s) ritual, Gawain’s alternate timeline imaginings, and the puppet show depicting the Christmas Game. Unlike the gallant Zola, Sir Gawain bites the apple of temptation too much and succumbs to his insecurities before swiping them away at the last second, leading to a doubtful conclusion as the Green Knight speaks his final line, “now, off with your head.”

Source Material and Endings

It’s in the resolution of these films where I personally take issue, not necessarily as a film critic, but as a plainclothes viewer. People enjoy seeing a firmly resolute ending in most cases; it is, quite literally, what ties a movie all together in the end. But both Zola and The Green Knight seem to hit a resolution wall, where the ending is abrupt and doesn’t feel nearly complete as a point where the audience must depart. In Zola, Zola and Derrek returning to the airport after the latter’s suicide attempt. In Green Knight, a girl puts on Gawain’s crown in an after-credits scene, sparking hope for the character’s future as a potential ruler and father in the real-world timeline.

However, both of these endings were distinctly different in their original source material. The Twitter thread from which Zola takes its origins ends with Zola and Jarrett (Derek the thread) arriving home (the latter unscathed when not nearly falling after from jumping from the window), Stefani’s real-life counterpart calling Zola from jail, and X’s real-life counterpart in jail alongside her. In the poem from which Green Knight takes its origins, the Green Knight reveals that Sir Bertilak de Hautdesert (the Lord) was the Green Knight all along, aided by Morgan le Fay’s magic; he spares Sir Gawain in a dazzling conclusion to the Christmas game, but not without imparting the moral of being truthful and honest, despite when it may hurt you.

In both film adaptations, the endings initially seem truncated in the stylistic abruptness that A24 films are somewhat known for. It is in their adaptation of the source material that issues arise with both Zola and The Green Knight, to varying degrees. Admittedly, my familiarity with both varied wildly before watching. I read the Zola “Thotyssey” Twitter thread shortly after its publication online, with some annotations to complement its specific vocabulary (though I lamentably cannot find those annotations now). I was only familiar with the Sir Gawain and The Green Knight chivalric romance from reading through its extensive Wikipedia article and gathering more information online. Both of these stories are marvelous in their creation: one was an internet tale that unexpectedly turned heads, the other a lone, anonymous 14th-century manuscript. Being equally in awe of how these stories came to be, it stings a little to see that they were modified somewhat for the screen, however understandable that decision may be. I’d like to individually take a look at these films to reflect on why these decisions were made.

Zola and Perception

James Franco was initially tied to Zola as a director, but passed the torch to Janicza Bravo in 2018, when allegations of his sexual misconduct arose. In navigating the ship that was adapting the Twitter thread, Bravo did something ordinary for a book adaptation but noteworthy in this instance: involve the author of the original Twitter thread, user @_zolarmoon (known as A’Ziah King in real life, Zola for short). As the real Zola, King was consulted since before Bravo was involved. However, Bravo made sure that King would be an integral part of the creative process when taking the helm. If you search online for interviews with the cast and crew, you often see these two women together in interviews, discussing the amicable relationship. In the Special Features of the recent home release, King expresses her liking to how the film was approached in the end: she simultaneously acknowledges that Bravo created her own take on the story via the film while still feeling that her personal story was well-represented.

When examining specific scenes as a product of that unique direction, one of the most striking of the film was the quick, yet drastic perspective shift to the “@Stefani” point of view. Witty, poignant, and dripping with situational sarcasm, the @Stefani sequence occurs about two thirds through the film and has Stefani tell her own skewed story of how things went down with Zola. Based off of the Reddit post Jessica made, the sequence pokes holes in the story like a bullet through butter, revealing with comedic intelligence the unreliability of the sequence’s narrator. With regards to Stefani’s character serving as a vehicle for something more, it’s the performance of Riley Keough in the film as a whole, and the nuance in the relationship between Stefani and Zola, that clearly display how much detail was given to addressing the outsider’s perception of Zola throughout the film.

In a way, Zola is intended to be a hero, not dissimilar to what you would expect for Gawain in Green Knight. From the start of her Twitter thread, King herself appears not as a shoehorned, de jure hero, but more authentically de facto. Her noticeable drive to make it through the bizarre situation she’s in, to make it out the other end with her wits about her, gives Zola a somewhat heroic bravery in an atypical setting. That drivenness to survive through the difficulties is part of what put King’s thread on the map, conveying itself as a topsy-turvy solar system with Zola as the central focus, her gravity firm despite being shaken.

It is lamentable that we don’t get to see every moment from the Twitter thread materialized on-screen. Some moments were removed from the final cut of the film (of which some appear in deleted scenes): the “GPS” tweet, the “strike one” tweet, et cetera. However, a notably intentional exclusion was the “manhood” tweet in which Jessica (Stefani) has sex with Z (X) in front of Jarrett (Derrek), likely an embellishment made while tweeting the story. Bravo replaces it with a more emotional cheating, with X hijacking the “whose is this?” phrase that Derrek and Stefani use to show love. It’s not as shocking, but it stings for Derrek, and maybe the audience, just as much.

But it’s in leaving out the ending that you start to get a better sense of where the focus of the film is: Zola herself.

As Bravo tells it in the director’s commentary, there’s only one scene (the sink bath) where Stefani is alone. Some scenes featuring Stefani were left out of the final cut, partly because of the desire to keep the focus away from supporting characters. In fact, real life skepticism of Jessica’s story caused Bravo to intentionally put Stefani “ at a demerit “ with her Whoa-Vickyan, blaccent-laden, and irreverent portrayal.

In an obscure interview, Bravo remarks, “I think the movie is, in some ways, a classic comedy. And by that I mean Taylour Paige, who plays Zola, is your classic straight man and Riley Keough, who plays Stefani, is the clown or the buffoon, you know: she is menace.” That “straight man” concept is also referenced in the Director’s Commentary, with Bravo noting to the audience that Paige’s portrayal of Zola is better because of it. And while placing characters into the archetypes of the hero’s journey or the straight man is certainly useful for discussion, Zola breaks the seams of those archetypes, partially because of social identity.

Looking back into the discussion that surrounded the Twitter thread in 2015, it’s shocking how much “Jessica tells her side” type of articles pop up, portrayed as of equal importance to King’s tweets. While yes, Jessica’s Reddit post was an important part of how discussion about the thread played out, Bravo makes a strong point in saying that the story that King told, and especially in the way she told, is what matters most. It’s a great extension of the care placed into making the story a black, feminist work.

When taking a step back and examining the film as a whole, the pieces of that black and feminist puzzle start to fall into place. The Confederate flag flying low, Stefani as a caricature, the outcall car driving by an arrest where the n-word is used by a police officer, the Whoopi Goldberg joke: it all paints the picture of an unwelcome environment for Zola as a black person. Bravo’s race-related additions to the film are poignantly relevant to America in 2015 and now, alongside a story where the universe that Zola lives in threatens her as a woman, too.

The premise of the story is essentially Zola escaping sex trafficking, really. The frequent advances and opportunities for private dances, her narrow escape from Backpage sex, her forced recruitment by X, the sexual assault at the hotel: it’s all Zola’s environs being the threat as they sharpen their knives, waiting for the opportunity to strike again. It’s important to note that, aside from less intense (but still very real) versions of the Backpage debacle and X’s recruiting, these moments weren’t part of the original thread. In making the world more threatening, Zola’s escape is even more remarkable and strength-showing.

Interestingly, despite the full-frontal displays of naked men throughout the film, and the story being about sex work, no less, no female nipples or genitals are shown in the near-hour-and-a-half run. That’s something beyond difficult to achieve with this subject matter, but Bravo’s adamancy about diverting the male gaze (something also discussed in the home media release and interviews) seems to be in a worthwhile effort to tell this story fairly, to correct the judgmental imbalances viewers might have. It’s this attention to detail in the portrayal of vulnerable women that Bravo’s feminist ideals shine through as they correct the course against the grain of the tangible danger Zola‘s women face. As a whole, providing the larger context of race and gender in Zola rectifies that imbalance.

The emotional weight of the scene where Zola stands up for herself in front of Stefani, moments before Backpage solicitors begin to enter the hotel room, is a clear point where those skeptical judgements are rectified. She confidently raises her voice while saying, “[t]his is messy. You are messy. Your brain is broke.” It’s an outburst, and it’s humorous to watch, but Zola stands up for herself and is adamant that she won’t succumb to the dangers of the world, no matter how outrageous; that’s all despite the world not wanting Zola to win because of who she is.

It’s in this way that Zola as a character is the chivalric knight, the comedic straight man, and the black woman that defies the odds against her, all wrapped up in one. Though it would be great to see on the screen, Zola’s flight home with Jarrett, her arrival in Detroit, and the epilogue of the calls from jail are let go with intention. In the story created around Zola, around this larger-than-life, yet reserved figure at the center, it is Zola’s character and hers alone that is meant to triumph. Portrayal of the main character in Zola is certainly different from the Twitter thread’s, though elevated instead of reduced. It easily calls conjectures of all those aforementioned archetypes, and, in a way, she is all of those things. Her portrayal as a sex worker in a precarious situation is radically different from other common portrayals, different enough that we have little to compare it to, save well-known archetypes, as Zola’s character stays exceedingly grounded and firm in the face of societal danger. Think Klute, think Pretty Woman, even Hustlers: characters in similar positions to Zola don’t have the bravery, or the agency, that she does.

Conversely, the story could be pulled back and represent none of those things. At its heart, Zola is a tale of survival. Rightly so, what matters isn’t how it ends for the other three of the Tampa crew. It doesn’t matter where Stefani and X end up. It doesn’t matter how Derrek recovers from his injury. If looking at the big picture, it makes sense to end Zola the way it does. By the end, all the other characters leave the camera’s view as Zola looks out the car window.

That’s because Zola is about Zola. What really matters is that Zola survives and heads home.

The Green Knight kills Chivalry, Replacing it with Vulnerability

Funny enough, the certainty of Zola’s survival is a complete switch from what is seen in Knight, which brings me to the departure from the source material in Lowery’s portrayal of events. Especially when considering the directorial inclusion of relevant issues at the forefront of Zola, The Green Knight is a modern take on a centuries-old tale. It’s in this modernity that the film, and namely Sir Gawain, shows the cracks in its façade. It’s not a 14th century manuscript: it’s a modern retelling that misses the mark slightly.

From the knowledge I’ve gathered from on the internet (you couldn’t make me read Middle English if you fed it to me with a spoon), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a chivalric romance. Not in the “oh, I love you” sort of way, but more a tale with all aspects of chivalry at its focus. One important piece of chivalry is honor, much like honor becomes the language to examine and scrutinize characters in El Burlador de Sevilla. The tale is societal commentary, showing readers how a noble, exemplary person should act in the face of challenges.

Gawain in the original poem is valiant, noble, and true. His only mistake at the end of the tale, keeping the green girdle, is what gives him a nick on his throat from the Green Knight’s axe. Then, the game is done: with the curtain falling down, it’s true nature is revealed to Gawain. It’s in the nobleness, bravery, and honesty of Gawain in the poem that Lowery takes some liberties. Dev Patel’s Gawain is cowardly, succumbing to desire, decidedly imperfect and, most of all, vulnerable. It’s a choice, and one that brings with it discussions of the modern relevance of literature as old as Sir Gawain.

Admittedly, chivalry as a code of conduct for medieval knights is no longer a relevant facet of life for anyone. The circumstances in which chivalry was made no longer serve a purpose. I don’t mean this as “don’t open doors for women,” but chivalry is far beyond the associations we have of it today (i.e., being a gentleman). Chivalry in a very literal, denotative sense simply means that a good knight is honorable in what he does. Where are the knights and courts to exercise that today? The answer is nowhere.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s unimportant to discuss, even in a modern context. Seeing faithful glimpses into the cultural ideals of another time and place help observers contrast the moral code of their daily life with that of people who died centuries ago. Important questions can arise, like “How are my values different from those of this person?” or “Who is given importance in society then compared to now?”, among others. Therefore, the code of conduct in a chivalric romance like this provides context not only for the setting of the story, but also the setting of the modern-day observer as well as a product of comparing two time periods

Lowery’s Green Knight poses as a faithful recreation of the original in its promotion, evidenced by this oral history A24 made; the question of morals and honor inevitably works its way into said oral history. It calls Sir Gawain and the Green Knight “[a] far reaching, culturally resonant mythic morality tale [emphasis mine].” It also summarizes the theme as “Make honor our guiding light through the darkness of our journeys,” then following it up with “Chivalry isn’t dead” as a buzzline. But, as explored below, these very statements are challenged by Lowery’s interpretation in the film.

What really throws these ideas for a loop is Gawain’s hesitancy, his vulnerability, his moments abandoning honor in Green Knight. The faint showing of a flaw at the end of the Sir Gawain poem is saturated tenfold when it manifests elsewhere in its film counterpart. Dev Patel’s Gawain is markedly different in this way from the Gawain of 700 years ago. He begins the tale with a sex worker as a lover (sex work in both films!), living his days carefree until he meets the challenge of The Green Knight. He “has no tales to tell” until that time, deciding to prove himself worthy to King Arthur, his court, and all of Camelot on a brave whim. However, that worthiness is tested often before, during, and after his journey to complete the Christmas Game after the Green Knight survives. He fails at many points, exposing himself as an honorable knight in the making, rather than one who is known as honorable, as the poem’s Gawain was.

It’s in the aforementioned saturation that some of the nuance of the poem disappears. It’s understandable that film adaptations change the source material, but this portrayal of events has more of the energy of a gaudy, deep-fried paint-splatter version of the careful, nuanced strokes of the original tale. Gawain starts with intentional demerits as an individual, just like Stefani, and has to very much climb his way up to a committal to honor. But with what purpose?

In the culmination of the story at the Green Knight’s castle, Gawain imagines too vividly what his life would be like upon fleeing. He truly flinches, as opposed to the excuse of flinching that the Green Knight provides in Sir Gawain. Gawain imagines abandoning the game out of cowardice, far beyond what’s typical of the poem. It’s this ending that, while vivid and beautifully shot, frustrates. However, most importantly to his character, Gawain fails the portion of the game at the Lord and Lady’s castle. It is here where Gawain is the most vulnerable in Green Knight, where the most character frustration with the original source material lies.

For those unaware, the Lord and Lady’s portion of the Christmas game in Sir Gawain is simple: all gifts that Gawain receives while staying at their castle must be also given to the Lord of it. In the poem, the Lady tempts Gawain with sexual advances, despite the potential infidelity with her husband. He refuses potentially out of honor (on account of then having to provide sex to the Lord), but allows kisses from the Lady instead. To satisfy the requirement of his stay, he kisses the Lord equal to the amount of times the Lady kissed him each day: once on the first day, twice on the second day, and thrice on the third day. This depiction of sexuality through the kisses has important and specific implications about the taboo of non-heteronormative relationships of the time Sir Gawain was written. On the third day, the Lady also gives him a green girdle along with her three kisses, which she says will protect him from any harm. He keeps the girdle, which is what the Lord, disguised as the Green Knight, nicks him in the neck. He didn’t keep his promise all the way, but for being honest about the kisses, the Green Knight spares him.

All the nuance of the original is axed (pun intended) in Gawain’s depiction in Green Knight, though the setup of this portion stays mostly the same (giving gifts to the Lord). However, the girdle is imparted on to him at the beginning of the tale by his mother, but loses the girdle along with other possessions. It reappears and is offered again by the Lady before any of her poetic counterpart’s kisses. As a result of the shock and opportunity presented by seeing the girdle again, Dev Patel’s Gawain immediately has sex with her as he falls into temptation. When it’s finished, she grabs his ejaculate spilled onto the girdle. In that milky handful of semen that the Lady holds, she sees a revelation: “You are no knight.” After that rightful challenge to his honor, he flees, but is quickly stopped by the Lord. The Lord again reminds him of the rule about gifts and gives Gawain a kiss, causing Gawain to (again) flee. The insecurity about Gawain’s own sexuality is magnified light years beyond the sparks of doubt that the advances and kisses from the Lady provided in the original. Instead of keeping with the game in spite of his discomfort, Gawain finds himself refusing a sexual advance from a man, vehemently and with fear, to the point that he flees the hospitality that was keeping him safe.

Not to say that “we didn’t see Dev Patel in a gay sex scene, that’s homophobic” in pointing out the issues with this scene, but Gawain’s preferences for women are clear enough that we don’t need a display of panic about his sexuality to understand that he’s flawed. In fact, Knight‘s Gawain is beyond flawed without bravery by his side. This elimination of Sir Gawain‘s nuance throughout the film (honor code or otherwise), even in something as simple as the heavy implication that an audience can’t understand a Christmas game taking place a year and a day away from New Year’s Eve (which come on, 1 year + 1 day makes enough sense for the lay-audience-member) extends the Gawain’s exaggerated flaws to flaws of the film itself. Gawain is reduced to insecurity, to a lowly speck of a person rather than the honorable conduct that Sir‘s Gawain understands and exemplifies.

Lowery’s approach in replacing chivalry with vulnerability strips Gawain’s character into someone who doesn’t deserve his (likely) fate of survival. He lost the game, but somehow wins it in the eleventh hour by accepting his own death at the axe of the knight, even though it believably seems he doesn’t, initially. It’s that saturation of Gawain’s character, while keeping supporting roles similar enough to their poetic counterparts, that irks me about this film. It’s no longer a tale of honor with a flaw at the end, but rather flaws throughout and honor at the end. And to that end, Gawain cannot prove his redemption in a gradual learning process, but has to save himself in a split second on the chopping block. If chivalry isn’t dead, why did Gawain kill it so quickly into the film, only to try badly to give it CPR at the last second? If this is an honor story, why put Gawain nearly on the other end of an honor binary? What are morals when Gawain will have sex and break the rules of his stay for an illusion of protection?

Scrubbing “Sir Gawain” from the title shouldn’t change what his character is this drastically. I was hoping to see Dev Patel in a noble, knightly role that he is more than capable of. Instead, I was met with disappointment, irreverence, and lack of honor. Lowery’s version has Gawain understand what honor is but not reach high enough for it. In stark contrast to Zola’s portrayal in Zola, Gawain does not face his challenges with strength or courage. With those drastic changes, Green Knight isn’t about honor anymore. It’s about ignoring its existence until the bell tolls for him.

I understand that it’s a creative choice on David Lowery’s part, sure. I do respect him for that choice. In a way, that saturation and exaggeration of the Gawain character brings the insecurity to a humanly understandable level. But to think that the story could have been something much greater at the expense of the audience is maddening. Maybe it’s that I need to get a few more watches in of Knightlike I did Zola to better understand Lowery’s intent, but for now I find myself reaching at a story that lacks the recognition that it attempted to give itself in that oral history. While it was well worth the watch, all this “meddling with Gawain’s honor” business left a strange aftertaste.

Some Final Thoughts

Maybe that take on The Green Knight is too harsh. I still remember leaving the theater after Zola with a similar sense of dissatisfaction. Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t like the film at all. It’s amazing to see Patel in that role, despite my issues with it.

I feel like with both of these films, one of the issues I had in seeing them was prior knowledge and mental anticipation. Initially, this piece was going to be a strong rebuke of both films for their dissatisfactory endings, for not matching 1:1 with the original. The anticipation building for almost six years to see Zola didn’t live up to initial expectations, through no fault of the film, but rather through a fault of the imagination. In my mind, it was so much more grandiose and exaggerated. It’s funny how what I was initially expecting out of Zola is also where my thoughts lie when I take issue with Knight.

The presence of both of these films, especially in their close proximity created by their back-to-back releases, is remarkably amazing. Even more amazing is that these films existed despite the pandemic throwing everything up in the air. Even merchandising considerations with delays were an interesting observation to make: The Green Knight had a tabletop RPG amongst its merch offerings, while A24 released a book version of the Twitter thread and a zine compiled by Bravo as companions to Zola (both of which I am now the proud owner of, along with the Blu-Ray).

Despite my gripes with both, I don’t think I could have enjoyed a close pair of releases like this in any other circumstance. Despite my analytical take on Zola, it’s genuinely enjoyable to watch even passively, without analysis. And despite my intense nitpicking of The Green Knight, I’m glad it is on a level where these things can be critiqued in a nuanced way. The Super 16 grain of Zola hazily adds to its fantastical nature, and the literal greenery in the Green Knight’s character is neat, though potentially a little overdone. I could go on all day about the similarities and how much I did enjoy watching these, but I have to stop somewhere. Maybe, like these two films, I’ll leave you with an ending that doesn’t feel entirely complete at first. Don’t worry: you’ll get to a feeling of completeness in a few months.

Assorted Links:

Zola’s Wikipedia Page

The Original Twitter Thread that was adapted into Zola by A’Ziah King (2015)

The subsequent Rolling Stone article, published shortly after, with multiple perspectives on the events that occurred

Some endnotes on what happened to Z (the real life X) if you’re curious

The Green Knight’s Wikipedia Page

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by the Anonymous Gawain Poet (late 14th century)

A Scholarly article on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight about its implications of sexuality

Assorted Videos:

Endnotes

1: Before Zola’s home media release on September 14, Zola and The Green Knight were available to purchase online at a premium, the former now also available for rent. This is a subject of interesting debate; read the article by IndieWire’s Tom Brueggemann for more information.

2: While this isn’t a confirmed change, some who saw and reviewed the initial Sundance cut were speculating that the penis montage could land Zola an NC-17 rating. A24 did not respond to requests for comment regarding a potential changes between cuts.

3: Though this was a fictional addition to the story that A’Ziah King made in the moment, as she revealed in her Rolling Stone interview.

Originally published at pizza.fm on September 18, 2021.

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Writer at Pizza FM, Media Consultant for Twocanoes Software, & Music Tech alumnus at UIUC (w/Spanish & Informatics Minors). Also a Songwriter/Sound Designer!

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