Exclusive: A24 and James Franco’s Stripper Movie ‘Zola’ Lands ‘Lemon’ Director Janicza Bravo

     June 14, 2018

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After making her feature directorial debut last year with the off-kilter indie comedy Lemon, up-and-coming filmmaker Janicza Bravo has signed on to direct Zola for A24, Collider can exclusively reveal.

The project is based on David Kushner’s Rolling Stone article “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted.” If you aren’t familiar with that epic viral tale, click here, but basically it follows a young exotic dancer who gets more than she bargained for when she agrees to go on a road trip to Florida with a prostitute, her bipolar boyfriend, and a moody pimp.

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Image via A24

Bravo will direct from a script by the Goat duo of Andrew Neel and Mike Roberts. Meanwhile, Christine Vachon and David Hinojosa will produce for Killer Films, while James Franco and Vince Jolivette will produce for Rabbit Bandini Productions, and Gia Walsh and Kara Baker will produce for Gigi Productions. There had been some rumors that Franco and Rabbit Bandini were being removed from the project in the wake of allegations that may or may not have cost Franco an Oscar nomination for A24’s The Disaster Artist, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, as Rabbit Bandini remains involved in Zola — though Franco will no longer direct the film, as previously reported.

Kim Coleman Casting recently put out a casting call for the title character, and the producers are waiting to find their lead before moving on to the other roles.

Bravo started her career as a costume designer before going on to write and direct her own short films, which caught the eye of Killer Films — one of the three production companies behind Lemon. That film starred Bravo’s real-life husband Brett Gelman as a man who watches his life unravel after he’s dumped by his longtime girlfriend.

As a director, Bravo’s TV credits include Atlanta, Dear White People, and Love, as well as HBO’s Divorce and Here and Now. Bravo is also an actress who’s coming off a major role Lena Dunham’s new HBO series Camping, which co-stars Jennifer Garner, David Tennant, Juliette Lewis and Gelman. She previously appeared in Lake Bell’s acclaimed comedy In a World… She’s represented by UTA.

A24 did not respond to multiple requests for comment, though the company is known for taking chances on budding female filmmakers with a unique voice, such as Greta Gerwig, Gillian Robespierre and Pippa Bianco, among others. A24’s upcoming releases include Jonah Hill’s directorial debut Mid ‘90s and the horror comedy Slice starring Chance the Rapper.

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