The Fits
April 12th, 2018

The Fits [2016]

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center as we showcase the debut features of some of today’s modern visionary filmmakers with a year-long series dubbed Women Direct. Our third selection is Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits [2016] with an introduction by Buffalo International Film Festival director Tilke Hill.

  • Screening Date: Thursday, April 12th, 2018 | 7:00pm
  • Venue: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
  • Specifications: 2016 / 72 minutes / English / Color
  • Director(s): Anna Rose Holmer
  • Print: Supplied by Oscilloscope
  • Tickets: $8 general, $6 students & seniors, $5 members
  • Deal: We will also be raffling off two limited edition screen prints of The Fits‘ poster courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

TrailerSynopsisDirector Statement/BioLinks

Courtesy of press notes:

Toni trains as a boxer with her brother at a community center in Cincinnati’s West End, but becomes fascinated by the dance team that also practices there. Enamored by their strength and confidence, Toni eventually joins the group, eagerly absorbing routines, mastering drills, and even piercing her own ears to fit in. As she discovers the joys of dance and of female camaraderie, she grapples with her individual identity amid her newly defined social sphere.

Shortly after Toni joins the team, the captain faints during practice. By the end of the week, most of the girls on the team suffer from episodes of fainting, swooning, moaning, and shaking in a seemingly uncontrollable catharsis. Soon, however, the girls on the team embrace these mysterious spasms, transforming them into a rite of passage. Toni fears “the fits” but is equally afraid of losing her place just as she’s found her footing. Caught between her need for control and her desire for acceptance, Toni must decide how far she will go to embody her new ideals.


  • Venice Film Festival – 2015
  • Sundance Film Festival – 2016
  • Gotham Awards – 2016 – Nominee: Tribute Award, Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award & Breakthrough Actor
  • National Board of Review – 2016 – Winner: Breakthrough Performance – Female & Top Ten Independent Films
  • Independent Spirit Awards – 2017 – Nominee: Someone to Watch Award & Best First Feature

Courtesy of press notes:

Director Statement:

We collaborated with Queen City Boxing Club and the Q-Kidz Dance Team to cast real teenagers from the West End of Cincinnati. Working with young athletes allowed us to focus on the physicality and nuanced movements we needed to tell the story from beginning to end. Casting all of the girls from the same real-life dance team meant that we could emphasize the authentic sisterhood and collective memory-making that young women experience when they bond on a team. We filmed The Fits in an immersive environment, living on location and inviting the young cast to see themselves not just as performers, but as co-authors of the characters on screen.

At its heart, The Fits is a meditation on movement as seen from the perspective of adolescent girls. The film explores the particularly young female phenomenon of mass hysteria, also known as mass psychogenic illness. The rapid spread of symptoms affects members of a cohesive group whereby physical ills have no corresponding organic cause. The Fits juxtaposes the precise, powerful, and intentional movements of drill with subconscious, spontaneous, and uncontrolled movements of collective hysterics.

I directed The Fits as a dance film, considering the movements of the actors and camera to be choreography in each scene. From stand battles to obsessive workouts, from the way Toni carries her body down the hallway to the freedom in Beezy’s play, we approached storytelling from the physical performance first. Through these movements, we explored our thematic questions:

What are the indications of belonging to a group and how do those markers develop?
How do girls use their bodies as a mode of communication?
What is the self?
Is the body separate from the self?
Is identity a performance?
How does one differentiate between self and other?
Is it possible to truly betray one’s self?

Director Bio:

Anna Rose Holmer was listed as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2015.” Her narrative directorial debut, THE FITS (Venice International Film Festival 2015), is a selection of the Venice Biennale College 2014/2015 and the Sundance Institute Editing Intensive Fellowship. She recently produced Jody Lee Lipes’s BALLET 422 (Tribeca Film Festival 2014, Magnolia Pictures) and Mike Plunkett’s SALERO (IDFA 2015). With filmmaker Matt Wolf, Anna co-directed and produced A BALLET IN SNEAKERS: JEROME ROBBINS AND OPUS JAZZ, a companion documentary to NY Export: Opus Jazz, (SXSW 2010 Emerging Visions Audience Award) which aired on the PBS Great Performances/Dance in America Series. Anna’s first documentary feature, TWELVE WAYS TO SUNDAY, was one of ten films to participate in IFP’s 2009 Documentary Filmmaker Lab and premiered with Rooftop Films in 2010.


  • The Fits (2016)
  • Twelve Ways to Sunday (2015)

Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:

  • 3/18/18 – “First-time writer-director Anna Rose Holmer crafts a meticulous mood of psychological isolation and beguiling mystery through her metaphorical tale, which exhibits less interest in traditional dramatic conventions than in situating viewers in its protagonist’s particular headspace…this immensely promising debut suggests a bright future for its maker.” Nick Schager, Variety – link
  • 3/26/18 – DP Paul Yee on The Fits, Achieving Close Eyelines and Getting an Unexpected Steadicam Bump. Matt Mulcahey, Filmmaker Magazine – link
  • 3/28/18 – “I started in camera, and the numbers are worse in camera. It is top of the pyramid, all the way down. It is everywhere you look in the industry and in our representation in government. This is not unique to cinema, and if you look at the numbers for women of color, it is even worse. I am very aware of the numbers and data. It is depressing. Our film was very gender balanced, with female heads of departments. I look at filmmakers like Ava Duvernay who is making progress in leaps and bounds, in terms of who she is hiring. Awareness is one step. The ultimate privilege is to be able to create and fail, and that these failures are representative of you, not an entire group’s ability to create work. We are far from that.” Anna Rose Holmer, director of The Fits – link

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