A blend of dance, sports, sci-fi, and horror channeled through the story of a nine-year-old tomboy, The Fits is an entirely new take on the coming-of-age film. Toni (Royalty Hightower) is training as a boxer with her brother, Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor), but when the dancing team in an adjacent gym attracts her eye, she becomes drawn to a feminine zone of expression. At first unnatural in this new setting, Toni is intimidated by everyone else around her, who all seem so sure of themselves and their bodies. As she begins to transition and find her footing, one by one the girls on the dance team mysteriously start having spontaneous, convulsive “fits.” Nevertheless, Toni continues to plunge further into a new world of dance and self-discovery.
Cast with non-professional actors from an actual Cincinnati dance team, the Q-Kidz, The Fits is the debut feature by producer-filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer, who co-wrote the film with her editor, Saela Davis, and producer, Lisa Kjerulff. Together they make up Yes, Ma’am!, a collective that Holmer claims was at first made jokingly: “We needed a production company and there were all these collectives of dudes that had come out of NYU. There were like three guys who formed companies and produce and direct with each other. We were joking it was almost like a female version of those, so I was like let’s just call it ‘Yes, Ma’am!’ A true collaboration grew out of us being a little sassy.”
Anna Rose Holmer lives in Clinton Hill; we spoke at the Sundance Film Festival, where The Fits premiered—with Oscilloscope Laboratories having already snapped up distribution. Saela Davis (currently of Greenpoint) and Lisa Kjerulff (Crown Heights) chimed in to the conversation via email. The film will make its NYC debut in March at MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “New Directors/New Films,” with a theatrical release following in summer.