THREE EXAMPLES OF MYSELF AS QUEEN
16mm, color, 26 mins.
A hilarious romp that turns topsy-turvy the old Hollywood standards of female sexuality and pleasure, Three Examples of Myself... brings together three fantasies of how women would run things if they were on the throne of power. Remixing fluffy musical numbers with a definite feminist twist, director Biller creates a rebellious coquette for the 90's--a kind of Sandra Dee meets Madonna--as she rules a harem in the Arabian Nights, rules over a hiveful of submissive drones, and even finds sexual liberation in the disco era. With a scoreful of delightful musical fantasies, the film delivers a magical twist to the notions of visual pleasure. With lyrics like "She is fertile, she is nice--She gives us good advice. She is everything we need!", you simply can't go wrong. -- New York Asian American Film Festival
Anna Biller wrote, directed, starred, composed the songs, created the sets, and sewed all the wild costumes for this collection of colorful vignettes... Sheer enjoyment, this movie is like a big, pink frosted birthday cake-- 99 1/4% pure sugar. --Seattle Asian American Film Festival
Anna Biller'sThree Examples of Myself as Queen is an endearing camp travesty musical. Sweet, funny, with marvelous costumes, sets, and even quilts designed and constructed by Biller, a kind of innocent homage to Maria Montez with color and decor worthy of Kenneth Anger. --Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES
Written, Produced, and Directed by: Anna Biller
Starring: Anna Biller, Jared Sanford
With: Kiki Valentine, Robert Greene, Gerard Cantor, Raymond Le Heup, Arthur Sabb
Cinematography: C. Thomas Lewis, Adam Janeiro, Christopher Sias, John Lennon
Costumes, Sets, and Music: Anna Biller
Oh Don't Say No by David Corrado, arranged by Anna Biller
ARTFORUM, "BEST OF 1994"
Meanwhile across town, the small, embattled literary-arts center Beyond Baroque was screening a short film by newcomer Anna Biller,Three Examples of Myself as Queen. A fairy-tale adaptation of feminist realpolitik, the film's humor and graceful perplexity may not have caused any shifts in the local faultlines but did crack a glorious smile on this audience member's face. --Lane Relyea
THE AMAZING WORLD OF CULT MOVIES
Three Examples of Myself as Queen, 1994. In these days when every nostalgic pop-culture reference seems to come with its own implicit quotation marks, it is refreshing to see nostalgia as deliciously unironic as this 26-minute short from indie filmmaker Anna Biller (The Hypnotist). Filled to the brim with lushly saturated Technicolor photography, wonderfully high-camp sets and costumes, and some deliriously silly concepts, Biller's film is a throwback to the early underground of Kenneth Anger and Jack Smith, worshipping old Hollywood with simultaneous deconstruction and unabashed homage. The first segment, "The Sad Queen," is reminiscent of such lavish '50s musicals as The King and I, with Biller as an ennui-struck monarch speaking in French to an Indian raja trying to cheer her up before her female attendants burst into a song that does the trick. "Queen Bee" has Biller lording over gay bees in a tent before moving into a glamorous all-pink hive straight out of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," while "Queen Poinsettia" begins as a late-60s exploitation film and ends as a fairy tale. Biller and a friend attend a mod party which almost turns into a gangbang before her tormentors turn into dogs, a princely hero shows up on a white horse, and Biller is transformed from go-go chick to princess, heading off to an enchanted castle as this wonderfully grin-provoking exercise comes to a close. Biller has points to make, to be sure, and introduces some interesting subtextual examinations of feminism, but never lets her modern sensibility detract from that historical sense of goggle-eyed Hollywood wonder. For those viewers enervated by too many grim, petulantly nihilistic shorts, Three Examples of Myself as Queen is just the ticket to learning to smile at underground cinema again.--Robert Firsching
Biller screens herThree Examples of Myself as Queen, a tour de force in camp that's destined to become a cult classic. It's already Beyond Baroque's most requested film. --Ellen Krout-Hasegawa
ZYAPPU (JAPANESE MAGAZINE)
Even if we consider that it's independent, is it really okay to make a movie like this? I'm talking about Los Angeles artist Anna Biller's film, Three Examples of Myself as Queen.
The film has a normal story, unrealistic acting, weird dancing, and interestingly timed dialogue. It is very narcissistic. Why? Beacause she wrote and directed the film, played the main character, wrote the music, made the costumes, and did the choreography and set design. She has done evertything herself. This is a great musical fantasy!
The story is in three parts. The first part is about a queen who looks like the Arabian NIghts, who sings and dances. The set is like Derek Jarman, and the mood is like Busby Berkeley, but there are only four dancers. The second part is about the happy life of the Queen Bee. Everybody sings to her, and tells her that she's smart, cute, and beautiful. The room looks like a Japanese Barbie Doll house. The third part is about the sexy girl who goes to a go-go party. The brutal men at the party chase her because she's too sexy, but she is rescued by a hero on a horse. Then she goes back to her own castle in the forest. This is the classic happy ending for a girl, every girl's dream, too good to be true. It's very handmade at the same time. This shows that it's possible to do it, except that we would never think about doing it.
That's why I ask the question: "is it really okay to make a m ovie like this?" Because it's very unusual that somebody should make it, even though we all have these fantasies.
When I think about film, I think of it as a kind of dictatorship. A director is like a queen, and controls things. In real life, Anna Biller is the queen, because she's directing a movie. She goes back and forth between being a real life queen (a director) and a fantasy queen from the movie. She enjoys herself making herself, and the split between the two worlds.
Nobody has ever said before, "The movie is for me, by myself." There is nothing wrong with that, but it's something I've never seen before. I feel that if we cannot have our dreams come true in this world, we can have them come true in the world of the movie. In movies, we can make a perfect world for ourselves. When we desire things, we can make them come true in movies. For although our desires exist in a fantasy world, movies are real. And she proves this.
For Anna Biller, the movie is a magic wand, but the magic wand is not made by magic. It's made by our efforts to make our dreams come true, and by our belief in ourselves. That's what the queen, Anna Biller, has taught us. Thank you, your majesty! --Lun-na Menoh
I was introduced to Anna Biller's film Three Examples of Myself as Queen by Benjamin Weissman... When I saw the film, I was immediately struck by her original vision and intensity. I was charmed by the images, music and costumes, and it struck me that she shared a creative itinerary with the genius Busby Berkeley. Repeated viewings (one wants to go back to her work again and again) gave me a deeper sense of her wonderful bizarre vision, a vision that is sadly missing in contemporary cinema. When I became the artistic Director for Beyond Baroque, I had the good fortune to screen Biller's film again for an audience. Since its first screening a few months before, it had become the most requested film in Beyond Baroque's history. This is remarkable if one looks at Beyond Baroque's history of screening much demanded films by such filmmakers as Godard, Feuillade, Peter Kubelka, Straub, etc...Being the Director at Beyond Baroque for three years I have programmed many great artists, but I must say that Anna Biller is probably the most unique and ground breaking artist in my experience. --Tosh Berman
From the first frame, this movie steals your breath away: wild candy-colored costumes are a joy for the eye in intoxicating colour which recalls Hollywood adventure films from the 40's. In the first part we see an oriental queen who is horribly bored and sings an emancipatory song with the ladies of her harem. Hmm...! In the second part a Queen Bee is beloved by her drones--once again with amazing colorful Hollywood musical choreography--while the local gay theater troupe sings and bakes pancakes in a pink hive. The third part is a time warp to party films of the 60's, in which the hero actually says "I am the hero and therefore I must rescue you." But Anna Biller, each time in the role of queen, does not need to be rescued because she's the queen. Amazing but true! Welcome to a feminist Fairyland with unbelievable charm! --Carl Anderson
LANE RELYEA (Critic, ARTFORUM)
There's a surprising and insistent tone of sober realism undergirding Anna's films. If she seems to embrace rather than renounce the cultural roles prescribing feminine subjectivity, it's only because they constitute the very materials in which a sublimation of all sorts of erotic and imaginative force is encouraged but never fully achieved. The fantasies her films adopt are not utopian or triumphal but more like bad debts that cannot be walked away from, and yet they can nevertheless yield levels of pleasure, defiance and agency. Anna's work is rich in layers that feed into a currently urgent discourse. --Lane Relyea
CHARLES GAINES (Art Critic)
Watching an Anna Biller film is like balancing a wine glass with one finger in an earthquake. Her linkage of visual pleasure with feminist ideas of subjectivity takes an imaginative twist because she engages in a kind of surrealist strangeness. The work is suspended between three ideas: pop culture and consumerism, conventional notions of visual pleasure vis-a-vis ldeas of late capitalist consumer excess and hyper-reality, and the surrealist charismatic object, infused with fetishized pleasure because of lack displacement (the inadequacy of the surrealist object's ability to find location). The ostensible simplicity of her images is soon displaced during its viewing by this awkward combination; the result is, to my mind, a different idea of visual pleasure in relationship to female sexuality. --Charles Gaines