The Cinefamily: just a hole in the wall, something you'd easily drive past without noticing if you weren't on a quest to find it....

A few hours earlier I'd stood shivering at the exterior of this humble theatre, situated in an even humbler, rather seedy part of LA, whose audiences would ritually line its bum-studded street like brave little soldiers, waiting to be let in. It was a Monday night, 30 minutes before the show, and I was hardly the first in line -- imagine that! My friends kept blowing up the group text, asking where #thefuck to park.

Finally they arrived, peeved at the parking prognosis I'd failed to give them, greeting me with strained smiles and hugs, but I knew they would soon be bewitched, as I had been, by this glittering 35mm, genre and time-bending spectacle of a film.

And they were. Bewitched. Entranced by the story unfolding in sumptuous colour and carefully composed shots, a young woman desperate for love, casting criminal spells on archetypal males, whose tropes resonated eerily with the cast of characters who had strode the stage of my own life. Oh, yeah, I've dated him before... and this one... that one, too! It was, in part, a nod to the sexploitation films of the '60s, though Biller had undeniably elevated this genre to staggering heights.

Reminiscently campy where it needed to be, in the songs, set dressing and costumes the director herself had decadently conceived, while still managing to dispense with unshakably clever, profound truths about life and love. Equally amazing, was that this story's component parts had been stitched together in the cutting room, again by Biller herself, with the deft precision and otherworldly perfection of an un-botched plastic surgery.

It made me laugh as much as it later made me cry when reflecting on its message. Biller's radical use of this genre to expose an underbelly of sexism to which we women are still privy, despite infinitely accruing dreams of feminism across multiple decades, was truly iconoclastic, considering its largely shallow, male-celebratory celluloid counterparts of former eras.

This wasn't the damsel damned to wink at her own weakness in the face of male rescuers, nor the run-of-the-mill villainess vamp, intended to incite fear at female sexuality. Biller's protagonist was a remarkable hybridization of both; as much prey to her victims as she was their predator, her gaze as terrifying as it was tender. She, sagacious, yet also benighted and oh, oh, so much more.

Newly-minted witch, Elaine, played by foxy Samantha Robinson, mewed, cooed and wooed with brahmin-esque inflections, infecting her victims with narcissistic definitions of love that were anything but approaching true love, in such selfishly drawn, meager estimations of her actual value. The film opens with her driving, she hopes, toward greener pastures in love, punctuated by flashbacks of a former failure in marriage, seeming to serve mostly as a suggestion of her character's potentially fatal power. She puffs away at cigarettes, burning through them as she will later burn through hearts.

Soon after we encounter the libertine lothario masquerading as sensitive professor/nature enthusiast type, steamed up and sizzling over her charms and incantations, his inebriation prompted by a psychedelic, flask-housed formula she'd prepared, containing, as it turned out, a realism far too dangerous to imbibe. Then comes the married man of self-inflicted boredom, his equally infantile infatuation, nursing at wine poured from a vintage decanter into an unwieldy goblet the size of his head, an elegant symbol of a coping mechanism mainstay for stagnating matrimonial bliss. Actor Robert Seely was great in this role, innocently stumbling in his negotiation of that almost indiscernible tightrope leading from legally-bound loyalty to equally hollow attachment in his inauguration of The Other Woman.

When Elaine finally arrives at what she believes to be her match, she discovers a man as gravely afraid of love as she is desperate for it, though neither truly understand the depth and scope of its contours.

The story is set in 2015, despite its retro-vibed costumery and set dressings. Now and then, as with a cell phone in one scene, Biller deliberately chooses to insert intrusive reminders of modernity, of what little progress American feminism may truly boast of in these most intimate contexts.

"Films like this are what make me want to make movies because they take chances," I continued to my friends sitting across from me at Canter's.

"But you're a doc freak, aren't you?"

Yes, I love documentaries, but I'll love realism in any filmic concoction, especially one so richly bedecked with creativity and originality as this, The Love Witch, in delivering its daring, societal truth serum.

I laughed as much as I cried because I, too, want my art to meaningfully affect people in the way that Biller's work has impacted me.

Filmmaking carries such responsibility, being unlike many art forms in its ability to reach the masses. It has a scary potential to influence society, whether adversely or otherwise, and, while most everyone worries about abusing such power, not everyone seems concerned about wasting the richness and positive possibilities contained in such a privilege.

So I cried because... because I want to make films that are different in some way, that tease the boundaries of genre or character or anything that may then tease society into something better than itself.

I commend Anna Biller for accomplishing this with such inventive talent, unflappable courage and devotion. Her constituency is among the greatest of our chosen passion.

You can follow Viva Symanksi over at her Medium blog.