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Hot Ticket: A Film by Zoë Lund

“Am I too late?” Zoe Lund asks the cashier behind the ticket window of Rotterdam’s Luxor Cinema. She’s not asking after the start time of a screening, but about the possibility of a too-late arrival to the outside world.

Hot Ticket, the short film Lund directed in 1993, operates as an inversion: we see the actress not entering the cinema, but exiting to the street. When she stops at the box office, she offers a blood-filled syringe in lieu of money. The ticket she is handed gives her access to a reality, into which she rushes. As she enters the wide open world, it’s as if she’s seeing it for the first time. We hear her say, “That which is not yet, but ought to be, is more real than that which merely is.”1

In an essay on the film published in Senses of Cinema in 2002, Nicole Brenez writes:

Hot Ticket constitutes a visual apologue. Like everything Zoë created (…), it returns us to the most naked and vivid state of existential necessity. (…) What is this hot ticket that guarantees the inversion of entry and exit, theatre and world, birth (…) and death (…), cinema and reality? Or, in eminently concrete terms, what makes us live, what is [it] that flows in our veins and allows us to stand tall? What do we believe in, what are we addicted to? Hot Ticket answers radically. The inversion between theatre and world is not just a neat twist. It signifies a revolution. The proposition spoken off-screen by Lund offers the essential formula of ethical exigency; it necessarily founds all culture of protest, the revolutionary imperative, and the vigilant safeguard of hope.”

Zoë Lund was born in New York in 1962. From an early age, she demonstrated talent for writing and music composition. A bright, rebellious, and deeply political student, Lund left school at sixteen. A year later, she was chosen to play the lead role in Abel Ferrara’s film Ms .45, which would be released in 1981.

“Young Political Filmmaker Shooting at Mount Holyoke,” read the headline of a 1983 news clipping. Below, a picture of Lund “working on a film about the radicalization of a young woman.” Uninterested in mute beauty, she wanted to write and produce her own projects. Lund would soon appear in several feature films and television shows, including Larry Cohen’s Special Effects (1984) and the TV series Miami Vice. Around this time, she was the partner and collaborator of the filmmaker and activist Édouard de Laurot, best known for Black Liberation (1967), featuring Malcolm X.

In 1991, Lund wrote the screenplay of Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, in which she also starred, addressing her own addiction to heroin. She died in Paris in 1999, at the age of thirty-seven, of heart failure due to cocaine use, leaving behind several unpublished novels, short stories, essays, and screenplays. Hot Ticket is the only film she directed.

The two-minute 16-mm film was created when the Rotterdam Film Festival invited a number of artists present for its 1993 iteration, including Lund, to “describe in one scene why it is important to make films, especially now.”2 Most of the guests answered the question in an interview caught on camera, but Lund approached it from a fictional angle. She wrote and shot her film in three days on location with a small crew, calling it Hot Ticket.

Lund later on found out that her short had been folded into a full-length film, Scenes from Rotterdam, by Dutch director Mijke de Jong, who had conducted the interviews. Feeling dispossessed of the project, Lund sought to contact de Jong in order to recover a version of her film. Robert Lund found the draft of this letter, dated December 1996, in his archives:

“My film is a dramatic, fiction film. It stands alone, and has a beginning, middle, and end. (…) I must be properly credited on the film and in all publicity. (…) I must have a copy of the entire film, and of ‘Hot Ticket’ individually. I must have the official rights to distribute ‘Hot Ticket,’ or to show it at Festivals or other venues. (…) I am entirely open to resolving this in a calm, practical manner.”3

It is not known whether the letter was ever sent, let alone answered. Soon after, in 1997, Lund moved to France, where she died two years later.

In 2002, when Brenez asked de Jong about Scenes from Rotterdam, she was told that the only existing print had been lost shortly after its completion. However, a videotape surfaced around the same time, presenting a badly damaged version of the film, which was screened at the Grand Action cinema in Paris as part of the 2002 Festival Balthazar.

In an interview with Brenez and Agathe Dreyfus in 1996, she stated that she had just completed the script Free Will and Testament, originally called A Violent Hope, which she planned to direct:

“It would be a crime to give it to someone else. (…) I’ll gather together all my friends, all my colleagues, the people who have always been faithful to me. We'll make such a formidable group, so talented, so skilled, but also so full of heart (…). I’d love to do it tomorrow. I'm quite ready.”4

In October 2023, as Small Press and Editions Lutanie, we published the first book of poetry written by Zoë Lund, Poems. On that occasion, we organized a launch at After 8 Books, Paris, followed by a screening of Hot Ticket at the cinema Le Brady.
We couldn't find a good print in time for the event. That night, we presented the damaged version followed by Bad Lieutenant.

After the screening, we continued to search for the original film. Thanks to Antoine Thirion and Michelle Carey, we managed to get in touch with de Jong, who told us that a 16mm print of Scenes from Rotterdam was in storage at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. She allowed us to extract Lund's segment and present it as an autonomous film. Eye Filmmuseum confirmed that they had the print and that it was in good condition. After obtaining all the necessary approvals, we were able to complete the restoration of Hot Ticket in May 2024.

In Lund’s interview with Brenez and Dreyfus, she talks about a novel5 she wrote in which a truck driver finds a reel of 16mm film, shot twenty-five or thirty years earlier. He projects the rush of images onto his truck at night. At the end of the novel, “the truck driver leaves the box of film in Watts, in the ghetto of Los Angeles, so that the next person finds it, so that the cycle continues.”6

Brenez writes of Hot Ticket:

“When at the end of the film Zoë disappears in the night while the neon advertisements remain, it leaves us with an essential lesson, a visual talisman representing the vanishing point of all political action, which finds its literary expression in a letter from Adorno to Walter Benjamin: 'The goal of revolution is the suppression of anguish.'”7

Hot Ticket, in this restored version, will be screened for the first time at Anthology Film Archives, New York, on July 16, 2024.

—Stephanie LaCava and Manon Lutanie, 2024


1. Nicole Brenez, “Hot Ticket (1993): Freedom High,” Senses of Cinema, October 2002,
2. Scenes from Rotterdam, directed by Mijke de Jong (Neon film), 1994.
3. Zoë Lund, draft of a letter to Mijke de Jong, December 1996, in the archives of Robert Lund, New York.
4. Zoë Lund, interviewed by Nicole Brenez and Agathe Dreyfus, July 30, 1996, published in French in Balthazar 5 (Spring 2002), translated by Brad Stevens for Senses of Cinema no. 22, Part 2,
5. Titled 490, this novel remains unpublished to this day. The narrative was, in part, inspired by the experience of rescuing several boxes of reel shot by Édouard de Laurot, which he abandoned when he moved out of his Tribeca loft. Robert Lund writes in an e-mail on May 3, 2024: “This was various footage he had shot in the 1960s/70s in the hopes of making more films which never came about. Zoë and I couldn't bear to see all this lost, so we got a friend with a van and moved it all to the big apartment on 10th St.” From these reels, Zoë Lund later edited the 40-minute film titled Histoire d'un Homme ordinaire, which was presented at the Cinémathèque Française in 1997, during an evening dedicated to de Laurot.
6. Ibid., Part 1,
7. Brenez, “Hot Ticket.”


Stephanie LaCava is a New York City-based writer. She is the author of two novels, 2020’s The Superrationals (Semiotext(e)) and 2022’s I Fear My Pain Interests You (Verso), and also runs a publishing project called Small Press.

Manon Lutanie is a filmmaker and publisher based in Paris. In 2009, she founded the independent press Éditions Lutanie. She is a member of P.A.I.N.–a non-profit acting to end the overdose epidemic and the stigma of addiction.


Image: Zoë Lund starring in Hot Ticket, 1993. © The Estate of Zoë Lund, Robert Lund, 2024.