I’m Wanita is one of those unforgettably great personality docs. When I saw the film at Hot Docs 2021, I have to admit I fell for this heavy drinking, hard talking enigma who tests the patience of her loved ones but can sing from the heart and also care from the depths of her soul. I’m Wanita brilliantly captures this complicated spirit and makes for unforgettable viewing.
Director Matthew Walker and his crew follow Australia’s self-described “Queen of Honky Tonk” on her 5-year quest to finally record an album in the country music Mecca of Nashville. Of course, nothing goes as planned as we’re dealing with a character full of surprises, and someone very much driven by her whims. One thing is for sure: Wanita will make you nuts—like she does to everyone in her life—but you’ll love her too.
Despite the strained relationships she has with her husband (seriously one of the most put-upon men in cinema) and her own daughter (who keeps reiterating her bitterness toward her mother), Wanita somehow still manages to charm—especially given the enchanting way she soothes the worries and fears of strangers. Things swing towards the good as quickly as they can go bad.
I’m Wanita is mainly an observational doc, which becomes a genius move when dealing with such an unpredictable character. This strategy allows for moments to simply happen and even allows room for on-the-fly interviews, which perk up the structure and enlighten our viewpoint. Superbly crafted, I’m Wanita has it all: heartbreak, great music, and that unquenchable desire to chase your dreams no matter the cost.
I’m Wanita screens virtually at Hot Docs until May 9. Head here for more coverage of this year’s festival.