The films of Kelly Reichardt (Miami, 58 years old) remind us that life is not like in the movies. Her minimalist stories are widely celebrated by much of the critics. appear in the lists of Cahiers du Cinema among the best of the year New York Times He usually describes them as masterpieces. The same thing happens at film festivals, especially since he ran away from the rules of the western in First Cow (2019). In recent months she has been part of the official Cannes competition with her latest work, showing-upwhere he received the Golden Carriage of the Directors’ Fortnight —an award for his entire career that in previous years went to Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion, among others—, and has obtained a similar recognition in Locarno, with an award that he received yesterday, Friday. But it’s not enough. As actress Michelle Williams, her fetish interpreter, recently explained in an interview, even though she is revered by the independent sector of the industry, the American creator needs another job to be able to shoot her projects, after almost three decades of experience in which He has managed to release eight feature films.
“Kelly spent a lot of time on her friends’ couches. Even as an established filmmaker, she teaches [en Bard College] to finance his career. Making movies infrequently, he doesn’t get health insurance from the Directors Guild of America. It is so. There is a theater named after him at the Sorbonne, but he has to teach to get health insurance,” the interpreter protested in Variety. Reichardt herself commented with humor a few years ago during a meeting with the public at the London festival that she has been the editor of almost all of her films because she was the only professional in the sector that she could afford to pay.
“I understand Michelle’s point of view and that she came out to defend me, but teaching film classes, in addition to feeding myself in the literal sense of the term, is something I love to do. I do it in a fascinating place, where filmmakers and video artists that I admire teach classes and where someone like Todd Haynes once shot [Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988)]. That I can shoot films about two men who steal milk or about the lives of two potters… well today it’s a miracle,” Reichardt told this newspaper in Locarno, hours before receiving his award from Haynes himself.
Precisely showing-up, which has not yet defined its theatrical release dates after passing through the French contest, is about that, about how daily troubles stand between the artist and his inspiration. Days before the opening of one of her shows, a Portland potter played by Williams is faced with a visit from her complicated family, her landlady/neighbor who is also an artist, and a pigeon with a broken wing. While it seems that not much happens, she spends the life and essence of an entire society.
“It has ended up being a story about the artists I know, although the initial plan was to do a biography of the Canadian painter Emily Carr (1871-1945). There were a few years in her life when she decided to buy a house and rent rooms, and thus gain time to create, but her tenants were so dependent on her that she did not get to paint anything in that time”.
Zero kilometer cinema
In his case, Reichardt has sought a way to build a cinema that could be defined as “zero kilometer”. In addition to his last two titles, others like Wendy and Lucy (2008), Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and OldJoy (2006) are also set in Oregon, the place where he lives. And she surrounds herself with a network of regular collaborators. Screenwriter Jonathan Raymond often signs her scripts with her, often played by actors like John Margaro (carol), Will Oldham and Alia Shawkat (Search Party). “I don’t think I could live in the game of the industry all the time. I prefer to work with people with whom I like to go out for a drink”, admits the director.
“I do worry that my students can’t afford something like that. In my generation, everyone had a few wasted years, where they were trying to decide what to do with their life. You went to New York and in one way or another you met people in the same situation as you and you began to collaborate with them. That’s how I met Todd Haynes and he’s someone I’ve been able to talk to about film for 30 years. Finding your artistic voice when you are young means that: being on sabbatical, trying things out, sharing experiences with your friends. But my students come to class directly from their parents’ house to find a job and earn money as soon as possible. Now the rents are so high everywhere that you don’t have time to go around trying or experimenting because you need to pay for your flat”.
That capitalist yoke is one of the recurring themes in his filmography. it is in First Cow, about the friendship of two sensitive men, a cook and a Chinese immigrant, years before the arrival of the Gold Rush in the United States, who steal some milk to set up a cookie business. Also in Wendy and Lucy, which shows how a woman’s day gradually complicates as she travels with her pet on her way to Alaska, where a better-paying job awaits. The public’s reaction to this film taught him something new about an issue he had overanalyzed. “It was 2008, in the years of George Bush Jr., and that confrontation between the two Americas that we see now was still incipient. In a meeting with the audience, people were very angry because in one scene the protagonist is forced to steal food for her dog. They told me that she deserved everything bad that happened to her for doing something like that, while seeing Tarantino’s protagonists shooting people in the face all the time is all laughs. It is curious how we have turned some gestures into political acts and others not.
Running away from genres is one of his goals as a filmmaker on the fringes, feeling that the norms that surround them favor such polarized narratives. “But escaping from them is almost impossible, because it is a very simple way to define a story. Almost any story you can tell can be considered a road movies. Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan new wave, where the codes are more open and expansive. I think that in showing-up I have managed not to feel trapped in those codes. I’m happy for that”.
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