One of the most anticipated films out of the Sundance Film Festival is already on Netflix. Miss Americana, a documentary about Taylor Swift's life in the two years leading up to the release of her album Lover, is streaming on Netflix and showing in a few select theaters. And while the film will certainly be of interest to Swift fans, the director of Miss Americana, Lana Wilson, might be reason enough for those who aren't as invested in the pop star to give the documentary a try. Following an immensely popular celebrity is a far cry from Wilson's previous work, which makes it all the more intriguing to see what she does with the topic.
Speaking to Variety, Wilson described Miss Americana as "looking at the flip side of being America’s sweetheart." Along with Swift's songwriting process and a behind-the-scenes look at her career, her decision to speak out politically, her sexual assault lawsuit, her years-long back-and-forth with Kanye West, her experience with an eating disorder, and her mother's cancer diagnosis are shown in the new film.
Swift ended up collaborating on a documentary about her life for Netflix after her concert documentary Taylor Swift: Reputation Stadium Tour debuted on the platform in December 2018. According to Variety, Wilson was on a list of potential directors. "She appreciated that my documentaries give audiences space to come to their own conclusions," Wilson explained to Vox. "They’re about gray areas and complexity. She really responded to all of that."
Wilson has directed two other feature documentaries. Her first, 2013's After Tiller (trailer below), was co-directed with Martha Shane and is about the four doctors who remained performing third-trimester abortions following the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller. The film won Best Documentary at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards and was nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards.
In 2017, Wilson released her second feature, The Departure, with follows a Buddhist priest in Japan, Ittetsu Nemoto, and focuses particularly on suicide in the country. With this film, Wilson was again nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. In addition to the two films, Wilson directed the mini-series A Cure for Fear about a treatment that is meant to rapidly cure phobias and PTSD, and wrote and produced an episode of the miniseries I Am Rebel about "Louis Moore, an African American activist who hijacked an airplane in 1972 to seek revenge on the city of Detroit for police brutality."
If you'd like to watch Wilson's films, After Tiller is available on Sundance Now with a subscription or free trial, and is available to rent on Amazon Prime, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play. The Departure can be rented on Amazon Prime, Google Play, YouTube, and Vudu. A Cure for Fear is available to stream on Topic. And I Am Rebel is available without an additional fee on Amazon Prime with a subscription, or to rent on Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and iTunes.
Perhaps Swift is what draw you in, but Miss Americana can open up a whole new world of documentary films.