Life in Isolation: Interview with Roney

Christie Pits Film Festival’s summer-long Dynamic Duos series continues Sunday, August 11th with one of the most iconic duos of documentary film history, Grey Gardens (1975). The film captures the relationship between Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie), former high society socialites who live a reclusive life in the titular run-down mansion, Grey Gardens. Paired with Grey Gardens are the short films Neighbours, the pioneering Canadian animation classic directed Norman McLaren, and Glitter’s Wild Women, directed by Roney. Glitter’s Wild Women tells the story of Sophie and Hannah, two sisters living in isolation from the rest of the world who set out to make a movie, and premiere it at their stage home-made film festival. 

We sat down with Roney to discuss her film.


This year’s festival theme is titled Dynamic Duos. Glitter’s Wild Women combines the mundane everyday concerns of your sister protagonists with surrealistic supernatural/horror elements in a way that really sets them apart - what was the genesis of this wonderfully bizarre duo? 

There are many things to credit for the genesis of this duo. I think one of the biggest reasons I wanted to do a surrealistic supernatural film is because those are the kinds of films I enjoy trying to figure out the most. It’s also where my head goes to when I’m listening to music and walking, or washing dishes, or not paying attention to people, or biking (though I should be paying attention to the road). I’ll come up with a story and there’s usually something dumb going on in my head, like glowing mushrooms. I’ll try to come up with a world like ours but just slightly more surreal with very real, human elements like pride, ownership, co-dependence, family, love, and murder.

I say human, but the next two things I have to credit aren’t human. I stare at my partner’s cats a lot when I’m working from home. One is very outgoing, buoyant, always up for adventure. A textbook cat. The other is a bit on the shy side, very co-dependant, can’t-ask-for-attention-but-needs-it sort of cat. They live with two humans in a vessel. They make me laugh a lot, without really saying much. I thought they’d be a good foundation to build off of for what would become Sophie and Hannah: bizarrely out of place, but completely in their element. Also, the cats can see at night and jump very high. Superpowers. 

Glitter's Wild Women features references to the pulpy biker film Angel's Wild Women (1972). Can you tell us more about the relationship between this cult classic and your film? 

When I was writing GWW, I was going through a phase of streaming psychotronic cult films from the seventies purely out of curiosity. I was quick to notice a pattern of tacky misogyny that all of these films held dearly to their cocaine-fuelled hearts. Angel’s Wild Women was a particular stand-out for me, because while the story was completely sexist and offensive towards women of all backgrounds, the director did this thing where he would give his female characters some kick ass line and a close-up to deliver it and it felt… good? I thought it would be cool (and funny) for the characters to watch these films and admire them while living a life that completely juxtaposes the misogynistic lens that a film like Angel’s Wild Women uses. It sort of felt like I was changing the narrative.

What made you choose glitter (of all things!) as your protagonists' strange crop and the source of their supernatural power? 

When I was writing GWW, I was broke. I knew I didn’t have the kind of money for inserting CGI glowing space mushrooms into the film, so I had to use my imagination. I thought about glitter, how fun it looks and how cheap it is. Since this story was mine, making me God, I included a key element to the space mushrooms: when they are handled and taken out of the forest, they turn into something familiar to us… like glitter. Boom. We just saved two grand. 

Your film is paired with the iconic documentary Grey Gardens, which much like Glitter's Wild Women documents the lives of two eccentric women living on the margins of society. What made you decide to situate your story in relative isolation? 

I think putting your characters in isolation gives you more room to play with bizarre personalities. If you take out the influences of everyday life, down to carrying a smart phone, you can really have fun creating your characters’ motivations, struggles, fears, and wants. They’re human, but if you take them away from humans they become more so. If you give them an environment entirely their own, without anybody there to tell them what to do or who to be, they develop a confidence that is second nature. It’s honestly more fun to write Sophie and Hannah because they grew up in isolation.  

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We hear you're developing Glitter's Wild Women as a feature. Can you tell us about the process of expanding a short film into a full-length film? 

It’s very, very, hard. My word! The biggest struggle is shaving off all of the dead weight ideas that have piled up in my head. There are so many different avenues the feature can go down because there’s so much more time on the clock. If you have any advice, please share.

Who is your favourite cinematic duo, and why?

Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap when they’re forced to sleep in a STUNNING cottage at an away camp and discover that they BOTH love Oreo cookies dipped in peanut butter.

Glitter’s Wild Women screens alongside Neighbors (Norman McLaren, 1952) and Grey Gardens (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Ellen Hovde & Muffie Meyer, 1975) on August 11th at Christie Pits Park.