We spoke to Roadkill director, Aliza Brugger, about her
film and growing up queer in small, rural town.
If you want to watch the full q&a with Aliza, click here.
What inspired you to make Roadkill?
Aliza: On a plot level, I made this film because I was always
curious about what happens to dead animals that get hit by a
car. They are on the side of the road and then they disappear so
somebody obviously takes care of them. So I researched it and
there is actuallya specific job for people who remove roadkill and
I thought about how lonely that must be. I wanted to personify
that loneliness and that’s how I came up with Tillie.
In terms of what happens in the story, a lot of it is based on my experience of being queer in a rural area. When I was a girl and I saw queer characters on TV they were usually in the city and in these open places and lived glamorous lives. I didn’t see myself represented, even when there were queer characters. I wanted to tell a story that talked about rural queerness.
What research did you do for this project?
I did a lot of self reflection on what my experience was growing up in a rural area as a queer person. I read this essay by Zee Francis called The American Archetype of Rural Queerness. It talks about this author called Willa Cather who is a queer author and she was from Nebraska. It was something that was really cool for me, because I always saw my ruralness and queerness that couldn’t exist. But then I saw those two things not only work together but compliment each other and even elevate one another.
What is Roadkill really about?
The heart of the story is a lonely character who can’t connect with her environment and then a stranger comes into her life and brings a lot of light and shows her how she could be able to connect a little bit more. I feel a lot of times queer characters, this is changing, but a lot of times they are often villains or perfect heroes and not show as just real people. Sexuality always defines the character and to me that isn't necessarily a good thing. Queerness is a part of us, it doesn’t define us. I feel often queer characters only exist when it’s about their queerness.
Where was it shot?
It was actually shot in my hometown, so I’m from a tiny town in the middle of Nebraska called Albion. There’s about 2,000 people who live there - it’s more like a village. A lot of the background actors you see are my old teachers, former coaches, my mum's friends! My parents are in it. It was cool and to come back to the community I was talking about to make the film.
Who is a queer person that you admire or that inspired you?
When I was writing Roadkill I was listening to a lot of Chavela Vargas because she was this really cool queer woman and I think she’s somebody whose queerness is a part of her but doesn’t define her or her work.
It’s really authentic to me.