‘Zola,’ the First Movie Based on Viral Twitter Thread, Will Premiere at Sundance

Variety | 12/10/2019 | Kate Aurthur
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“Zola,” a buzzy title among next year’s Sundance lineup, comes from unprecedented source material: a 148-tweet Twitter thread from October 2015.

The movie had an arduous journey to the screen due to ongoing allegations around James Franco, whose company Rabbit Bandini bought the rights to the story, while Franco was originally attached to direct. A24 is now backing the movie, directed by Janicza Bravo (“Lemon,” “Atlanta”), and written by Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris.

Fall - Woman - Aziah - Wells - Zola

In fall 2015, a woman named Aziah Wells (nickname: Zola) told an exaggerated — but not that exaggerated! — story of her journey from Detroit to Tampa, Fla. in order to make money stripping. Wells was conscripted to go to Tampa by a woman named Jessica, whom she’d met while serving her at Hooters; Jessica’s boyfriend, Jarrett; and their roommate, nicknamed Z, who turns out to be a violent pimp. What was meant to be an innocent trip of itinerant sex work turned into — in Zola’s Twitter version of the story — a dramatic tale of kidnapping, highlighted by a shooting and a suicide attempt.

The thread went viral, as did the hashtag #thestory, and was shared by the likes of Missy Elliot, Keke Palmer, Solange Knowles and Ava DuVernay. “That Zola story wild,” tweeted Missy Elliot, “ended up reading the whole thing like I was watching a movie on Twitter.”

Order - David - Kushner - Rolling - Stone

In short order, David Kushner’s Rolling Stone article...
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