The Royal Road

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Monday 13th – Saturday 18th June
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A beguiling meditation…serenely accomplished  (Dennis Harvey, Variety)

As personal as it is political, Olson’s meditative project offers a profound lesson on intimacy and history
(Melissa Anderson, Village Voice)

One of the most ambitious documentary projects at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. [A] deeply personal cinematic docu-poem(Ryan Lattanzio, Indiewire)

A cinematic essay in defence of remembering, The Royal Road offers a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican-American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner. Deceptively simple urban landscapes of California serve as the framework for the film’s lyrical voiceover, combining rigorous historical research with a stream-of-consciousness personal monologue, and relating these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective. Shot on 16mm film and contemplatively crafted, The Royal Road is a film about landscapes and desire, memory and history – and the stories we tell.

Seamlessly merging aspects of colonialism and film history with humorously inscribed tales of love, Jenni Olson‘s film is a viewing experience, as equally isolating as it is invigorating. Skillfully managing to omit the on-screen depiction of even a single human body, the viewing self is found concretized through a spatial cohabitation with the film object, in an act of mutual contemplation.

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The Royal Road | Jenni Olson | USA 2015 | 65’ | 16mm to HD

Jenni Olson is an experimental filmmaker, and leading expert on LGBT cinema. Her first experimental feature documentary, The Joy of Life, premiered at Sundance Film Festival (2005) and was awarded the Riggs Award. Her short film, 575 Castro St. premiered at Sundance and the Berlin Panorama (2009). It was commissioned for the release of Gus Van Sant’s Milk, and is a permanent installation at 575 Castro Street, home of the Human Rights Campaign Action Centre. Olson is on many advisory boards including the Outfest/UCLA Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation, and Canyon Cinema.