‘I’m Wanita’ (2021, Matthew Walker)

Hot Docs ‘21

The documentary chronicles Wanita Bahtiyar’s journey in to record her musically diverse album in Nashville, New Orleans, and Memphis. Wanita is a binge-drinker, cigarette smoker, mother, and Tamworth, Australia’s Queen of Honky Tonk. Born in the wrong era, she channels Patsy Cline with the power and verve of Janis Joplin. Those who remember Wild Rose (2018), will see the similarities between Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) and the untamed, red-haired, high-powered Wanita whose main goal is to make it big in Nashville.

The film is dedicated to Wanita’s late husband, Muammer “Baba” Bahtiyar. She arranged to marry his son, but ended up falling in love with Baba instead. While Wanita finally got the chance to record at Sun Studio in Memphis, Baba called her with car problems. Wanita had no problem telling him she was in the middle of her realizing her dream. Because of her focus on her music and husband, she is estranged from her daughter, Ellymay, who chose to let her mother find her own way. Still, her daughter relates some tales and also says she’d focus on her child if she ever has one.

Despite challenging the people closest to her, she often connects with complete strangers. In the Nashville International Airport, Wanita comforts Pam, a woman she randomly met, who has recently experienced a death in the family by singing “The Darkest Day” by Loretta Lynn.

A remarkable point in the documentary is when she visits the home of her idol, Loretta Lynn, in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. It’s Wanita’s biggest and most dramatic dream to meet Lynn before one of them dies. Wanita is focused, talented, accomplished, and driven and will not let anything stand in the way of her goal to become a huge, country music star.

Article was written by Allison McCulloch, follow her Twitter.

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