Anthology Film Archives: The Royal Road

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Co-presented by MIX NYC, producer of the NY Queer Experimental Film Festival.

The latest film from acclaimed San Francisco-based filmmaker, writer, curator, and LGBT film historian Jenni Olson, The Royal Road is a beautifully structured, multi-faceted essay film that offers up a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity, the quest for unattainable women, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo – all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner. Freely mixing personal and historical meditations, and allowing the two to amplify each other without necessarily making the connections explicit, The Royal Road is a film of ideas that is also a pleasure to look at and listen to.

“Using the inside-out essayist frame popularized by the likes of Thom Anderson and Chris Marker, Olson cultivates a ponderous and intimate history lesson on unrequited love for others and the self, paralleling her own odysseys with that of California’s oldest road, El Camino Real, while giving astute attention to the serenity of nostalgia in the man-made landscapes of yesterday. The empty streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco and fragmented remnants of the titular road itself are shot to beguiling effect on 16mm by Sophie Constantinou. These meticulously assembled static shots hold perfect court with Olson’s measured, heady voice-over as she navigates the strange reality of nostalgia and the incomprehensible melodramas of the mind. –Ben Umstead, TWITCH

“Olson’s dialectical approach suggests the formal practices of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, two filmmakers who’ve documented monuments, landscapes, and other layers of meaning as a way of confronting the past. To call her methods ‘minimalist’ would be to miss the point, not when sound and image are used so richly to make sense of the self between the interstices of history and geography.” –Sean Nam, SLANT

Jenni Olson will be here in person for opening weekend, Fri, Oct 30-Mon, Nov 2!

Friday, Oct 30 through Thursday, Nov 5 at 7:15 & 9:00 nightly. Additional screenings on Sat & Sun at 5:30.

Q&A Special Guests:

  • For the Friday, Oct 30th 9pm post-screening Q&A — Jennie Livingston (Paris is Burning, Earth Camp One).
  • For the Saturday, Oct 31st 5:30pm post-screening Q&A — Jim Hubbard (Co-founder of MIX: NY Queer Experimental Film Festival).
  • For the Sunday, Nov 1st 5:30pm post-screening Q&A — Basil Tsiokis (Director of Programming for DOC NYC).

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Dates: 

Friday, October 30, 2015 (All day)
Saturday, October 31, 2015 (All day)
Sunday, November 1, 2015 (All day)
Monday, November 2, 2015 (All day)
Tuesday, November 3, 2015 (All day)
Wednesday, November 4, 2015 (All day)
Thursday, November 5, 2015 (All day)
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