New Documentary Delves Into the Life of Austin's Voodoobilly Queen Izzy Cox
A celebration of love and struggle in Izzy Cox: Fighting the Devil
By Doug Freeman, Fri., April 15, 2022
Even five years after her death, Izzy Cox remains a unique artistic force within the Austin music scene. The self-proclaimed Voodoobilly Queen exuded a defiantly DIY aesthetic, full of brash charisma and an often chaotic energy distilled from her life into her songs. With a bedrock of cabaret jazz and swampy blues laced with a punk style, Cox's songwriting cut deceptively dark and deep. She unspooled a world where murder and love ballads intertwined, where she reckoned with her own demons and struggles through a raw, unrestrained, and even surprisingly charming musical catharsis.
When she passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2017 at the age of 42, local filmmaker Omar Mousa was already working on a documentary, attempting to capture Cox's unique world and ensuring her story and art would not be forgotten. The result, Izzy Cox: Fighting the Devil, finally premieres April 21 at the Austin Film Society, hosted by MyPoint.tv.
"The moment we knew there was cancer and there was only like six months for her, I wanted something that would kind of cheer her up a little bit, and maybe create a bigger picture," offered Mousa. "I was able to jump in and basically spend those last six months with her at Seton Medical Center. Day after day, I would just go and sit there with a camera and record some stuff with her. I think this is her manifestation. We would sit and talk about it and she would say, 'I trust you on this.'"
The final third of the film focuses on those last months and Cox's harrowing decline both in hospice and onstage before her fans, but it also contrasts starkly against the vibrant and defiant artist introduced at the outset. Cox led a difficult life, struggling with mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions, and even the self-sabotage of her career. She ran away from an abusive father in Montreal in her early teens, finding music amid the punk scene while living on the streets. She eventually made her way to Hollywood, and then found a supportive home in Austin in underground clubs like Headhunters.
– Omar Mousa
"This movie represents so much of life, of directions. There are so many avenues to discover life, and to discover pain, and to discover the struggle," said Mousa. "For me, Izzy was kind of symbolic in the film, but the reality is I'm talking around the mental illness issues in Austin and around the underground scene. I think that this is the way it is, and it's painful and it hurts. But I think a lot of the creativity we see in the music venues around Austin from locals comes from the pain we go through on a daily basis."
Mousa isn't the first filmmaker to recognize the power of Cox's music and story. Fighting the Devil uses footage from Gabriel Lopez, whose filming of a tour through the Northwest with Cox offers an unvarnished witness to the artist's often chaotic lifestyle. He also received interviews with Cox from Australian documentarian Jennifer Ross, and local public access fixture Dave "DaveTV" Prewitt.
"Hopefully this will encourage more filmmakers to touch on this subject matter, and encourage a lot of people who are just holding on to the sadness, holding on to the grief, to just talk about it. I think the therapy starts when you speak about it," asserted Mousa. "I want her to be remembered by just that message of love, and her music, which speaks about her pain. It's a film about survivors and people who go through things, and they want to talk about it."
MyPoint.tv presents Izzy Cox: Fighting the Devil, Austin premiere, at AFS Cinema (6406 N. I-35 #3100) Thu., April 21, 7pm. Tickets $20 via eventbrite.com. $5 raffle tickets will also be available. Proceeds benefit HAAM.