Nicole Riegel Talks About Her Semi-Autobiographical Drama Holler – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

The 2020 SXSW Film Festival is coming up fast! We can’t wait to have you here to celebrate another year filled with movies, high-caliber talent, and unique performances. In the mean time, take a look at the films in our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series.

Check out our Q&A with director Nicole Riegel as she tells us about her film Holler, which will World Premiere in Narrative Feature Competition.

“I made a film about a woman who is an outsider and I’ve always felt very much like an outsider. SXSW is a place that celebrates outsiders and wears that status like a badge of honor. I felt like they would understand me and champion my band of weirdos.” – Director Nicole Riegel

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

Nicole Riegel: My film is a semi-autobiographical story about how difficult it was to transcend where I came from as a young woman, both practically and emotionally. I believe the personal is political, and today there is a national spotlight on those who feel left behind in places like my hometown in Southeast Ohio. This film was an opportunity to really show what it looks and feels like for a young girl to navigate a system that is rigged against her. With Holler, I’m proud to have collaborated with my hometown community to tell this story, including the many honest and hard working non-professional actors in the film that work the actual manufacturing plants and scrap yards.

What motivated you to tell this story?

NR: Growing up on the margins and leaving Southern Ohio was incredibly hard for me to do. In order to find the education and future that I wanted, I had to leave behind family and the community that created me and it felt like a betrayal. I needed to make this film so that the struggle of girls like me could be told in the most fair and authentic way possible.

What do you want the audience to take away?

NR: I hope audiences feel just how vulnerable girls like Ruth are to a fractured system that rarely gives them access to a better education or a better future. Aside from a couple solid advocates, not a lot was expected of me as a young girl and it led me to believe that the life I desired was impossible and that my voice didn’t matter. That’s a horrible feeling to carry with you. I hope people see my film and feel energized to encourage our girls to dream, reach, lead and have voices. I especially hope my film reaches girls like the one at its center and they are filled with a sense of possibility.

What were you doing when you found out you were coming to SXSW?

NR: I was in the middle of a sound mix and my phone exploded with messages from my producers telling me we had just been invited to the festival. I jumped up and down, high-fived my sound designer and then tried to get back to work.

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

NR: I made a film about a woman who is an outsider and I’ve always felt very much like an outsider. SXSW is a place that celebrates outsiders and wears that status like a badge of honor. I felt like they would understand me and champion my band of weirdos.

Do you have a past experience at SXSW that impacted your decision to come back?

NR: This will be my first SXSW and I’m excited to share and enjoy the art of my fellow filmmakers.

Add Holler to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2020 filmmakers!

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Holler – Photo by Dustin Lane

By Neha Aziz

02/19/2020

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