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Watch a Poolside Crisis in ‘Zola’

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In “Anatomy of a Scene,” we ask directors to reveal the secrets that go into making key scenes in their movies. See new episodes in the series on Fridays. You can also watch our collection of more than 150 videos on YouTube and subscribe to our YouTube channel.


A relaxing respite by the pool turns into a more menacing moment in this scene from “Zola,” the film adapted from a viral Twitter thread by A’Ziah King.

Taylour Paige plays Zola, a stripper who gets invited on a trip to Tampa to dance, but ends up in a more precarious situation than she had expected. In this scene, she tries to take a break, but is interrupted by X (Colman Domingo), a pimp who informs her that the plans for the trip have changed.

In her video commentary, the director Janicza Bravo explains that while much of the film is claustrophobic and takes place indoors, she wanted this sequence to be the opportunity to take the audience out into the open air. But what transpires doesn’t offer the same sort of freedom to its lead character, who is feeling imprisoned by the aggressive demands of X.

“What I’d hoped here is that the scene would remind us that some of our relationship to sex work, sex slavery is something that we have the privilege of getting to experience at an arm’s-length distance,” she said. “And here, it tells us that it’s actually right next to us. And it’s whether or not we choose to see it.”

Read the “Zola” review.

Read an interview with Taylour Paige.

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