Breaking into the music business is difficult work. Weeks, months, and years of gigging and living poor are often the story, and they are again with Australia’s self-proclaimed queen of Honky Tonk, Wanita. The determined but divisive character has spent her entire life trying to break big in country music in Australia. But, despite possessing a voice specifically tuned to the classic style, she’s had trouble getting out of her own way.
As the documentary opens, Wanita has managed to put together enough funds to fly to Nashville and record an album at the iconic Sun Studios. This journey becomes the narrative backbone of the film. Wanita is determined to get it right, probably correctly figuring that this will be her last real shot.
The film also illuminates her private life. She has a tumultuous relationship with her older Turkish husband, is estranged from her daughter, and a lifetime of gigging, drinking, and sex work has taken its toll. Still, it’s hard not to admire her determination, and while she often gets in her own way and alienates those around her, the resulting portrait is an utterly human one, and you can’t help but root for her.
I’m Wanita played as part of the 2021 Raindance Film Festival.
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