Skip to content

From Ben Popp, Head of Artist Services, NWFC

The Fits
Directed by Anna Rose Holmer, 2015
Streaming for free on Kanopy

In Anna Rose Holmer’s 2015 debut feature film, The Fits, the questions are plentiful, just like in growing up itself. The film follows Toni, a young girl played by Royalty Hightower, who it would seem is training to be a boxer like her brother, but when try out’s happen for the dance team, the Lionesses, Toni decides to give it a shot, placing her squarely in the presence of many other girls. Another movie might then follow Toni as she becomes a star dancer, as she visibly is lacking some of the skills the other girls have, however, this is not a normal film.

As Toni grows closer to a small new group of friends her age, the older girls begin having “fits” in which they might faint, convulse, or stand transfixed in what would look like a possession. Is it something in the water, bringing forth notions of places like Flynt Michigan, or is it something else? As Toni herself begins to shift away from being so much of a tomboy, the fits begin to catch hold of the younger girls. With a musical score that is both haunting and strange, so to is the atmosphere, taking place almost entirely within the community center housing both the boxing gym and gymnasium where they practice their routines, isolating the participants to a world of their own. What are the strange conscious or unconscious acts that we go through to become part of a new group? How about when we transition from innocence to puberty? What exactly are the fits?

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.