There is one incredible film set to world premiere in New Frontier Section at this year's Sundance Film Festival, The Royal Road by director Jenni Olson (The Joy of Life). Olson's fifth film to play at Sundance, The Royal Road is a deeply personal cinematic essay that uniquely weaves California urban landscapes, shot on 16mm film, with lyrical voiceover from the filmmaker to reflect on the history of California, nostalgia, desire, butch identity, and classic Hollywood films. Tony Kushner provides a voiceover cameo.
A deeply personal cinematic masterpiece set against a contemplative backdrop of urban California landscapes, Jenni Olson's The Royal Road offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo, also featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner.
Deceptively simple landscapes serve as the framework for the film's lyrically written voiceover, which combines rigorous historical research with a stream-of consciousness personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale.
A fascinating and unlikely reinvention story, The Royal Road simultaneously explores cinematic spiritual channeling, the conquest and colonization of Mexico and the American Southwest, fading historical Californian urban landscapes, and the passions found in butch identity to achieve an achingly beautiful and poetic defense of remembering. Probing roads from El Camino Real, to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, to the road right outside the front door, Olson crafts a deeply intelligent and transcending observation of the human condition that reaches for redemption in the embrace of history, nostalgia, mindfulness, and sheer beauty.
Only time will tell if this film has reached the pinnacle of its exposure.
Source: The Royal Road