New documentary delves into the life of Austin’s voodoo queen Izzy Cox: a celebration of love and struggle in Izzy Cox: Fighting the Devil – Screens
Izzy Cox: Fight the Devil
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 provocative do-it-yourself 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 mixed with a punk flair, Cox’s songwriting is deceptively dark and deep. She unfolded a world where murder and love ballads intertwined, where she considered her own demons and struggles through a raw, unbridled and even surprisingly charming musical catharsis.
When she died of 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 that her story and artistry would not be forgotten. The result, Izzy Cox: Fight the Devilfinally premiered on April 21 at the Austin Film Society, hosted by MyPoint.tv.
“The moment we found out there was cancer and there was only six months left for her, I wanted something that would lift her spirits a bit and maybe create a bigger picture,” Musa offered. “I was able to step in and spend the last six months with her at Seton Medical Center. Day in and day out I was going to sit there with a camera and record stuff with her. I think that’s her manifestation We would sit down and talk about it and she’d be like, ‘I trust you on that.'”
The final third of the film focuses on those last few months and Cox’s heartbreaking decline both in hospice and on stage in front of his fans, but it also contrasts sharply with the dynamic and provocative entertainer featured at the start. Cox led a difficult life, battling mental illness and post-traumatic stress disorder, addictions, and even self-sabotage of his career. She ran away from an abusive father in Montreal in her early teens, finding music in the midst of the punk scene while living on the streets. She eventually made it to Hollywood, then found a supportive home in Austin at underground clubs like Headhunters.
“I want to be remembered just by this message of love, and her music…”
– Omar Musa
“This movie represents so much life, so many directions. There are so many ways to experience life, to experience pain, and to experience struggle,” Mousa said. “For me, Izzy was a bit tokenistic in the movie, but the reality is that I’m talking about mental health issues in Austin and the underground scene. I think that’s how it is, and it’s painful and it feels But I think a lot of the creativity that we see in live 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. fight the devil uses footage from Gabriel Lopez, whose filming of a Northwest tour with Cox offers unvarnished testimony to the artist’s often chaotic lifestyle. He also received Cox interviews from Australian documentarian Jennifer Ross and local public access luminary Dave “DaveTV” Prewitt.
“I hope this will encourage more filmmakers to talk about it and encourage a lot of people who are holding on to sadness, grief, to talk about it. I think therapy starts when you talk about it,” Mousa asserted. “I want her to be remembered only by this message of love and her music, which speaks of her pain. It’s a movie about survivors and people going through hardship, and they want to talk about it.”
MyPoint.tv presents Izzy Cox: Fight the Devil, Premiere in Austin, at the AFS Cinema (6406 N. I-35 #3100) Thursday, April 21, 7 p.m. Tickets $20 through eventbrite.com. $5 raffle tickets will also be available. Profits go to HAAM.