Tuesday 1 December 2009

Kelly Reichardt

There seems to be almost no information at all about Kelly Reichardt on the web. I found some interesting interviews though, and I selected the following extract - the interview is made by maverick film director GUS VAN SANT (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Elephant amonsgt others). Enjoy!

Director Kelly Reichardt first gained widespread notice with her 2006 film Old Joy, a paean to post–9/11 political and personal miasma played out in the campfire conversations and road-trip recollections of two longtime friends in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Together they drive into the wilderness, get lost, find the hot spring they’ve been looking for, and return to Portland. What this threadbare narrative really underscores is the unspoken impossibility of their reconnection. Wendy and Lucy, Reichardt’s latest, debuts on December 10 at Film Forum in New York. Centered around the escalating hardships of Wendy (played by Michelle Williams; Lucy is her dog) whose car breaks down in a rural Oregon town en route to a well-paying summer job, the film shows how seemingly minor setbacks can lead to devastation. Reichardt’s other films include her 1994 debut River of Grass and several short films: Ode, Then a Year, and Travis. Currently a visiting assistant professor at Bard College, she lives in New York City. Revered auteur Gus Van Sant met with Reichardt this July in Portland to discuss the joys and hardships of filming on the cheap, local hot springs, and Wendy and Lucy.

Gus Van Sant So, your last two films have been in Oregon.

Kelly Reichardt My last three films. Before Old Joy there was a short called Then A Year. Mostly I’m shooting in Oregon because I’m working from Jon Raymond’s stories and they’re set here. Wendy and Lucy is not supposed to be Portland per se, but small-town Oregon. Old Joy was written specifically about the Bagby Hot Springs.

GVS I’ve never been there. I’ve always heard about it. I’ve been to hot springs in the Northwest but they’re not necessarily built. They’re natural hot springs.

KR I went to a built one last week in Fields, Oregon. It sits at the foot of the playa out in the middle of the desert.

GVS There’s something about the springs that have an enzyme, or something in them that can be bad for you.

KR I never heard that, but on Old Joy we had a ranger with us who told us about all the things he’d found in the tubs—including a dead body—which actually wasn’t the worst of it. He said the temperatures are just hot enough to keep all the bacteria alive.

GVS Those rangers see a lot.

KR A ll kinds of things, I’m sure.

GVS They have to be responsible for busting meth labs and such.

KR With Wendy and Lucy, I was thinking of not shooting in Portland again. I scouted all over. I went to like 20 states. Then I was sitting in this Safeway parking lot in the middle of February in Butte, Montana, thinking, What the hell am I doing? What are we going to spend bringing a Portland crew out to Butte to shoot in a parking lot that looks so much like the one in Portland that Jon wrote about? So Jon ended up getting his way. We shot at the Walgreen’s right down the street from his house.

GVS In the same place he was thinking of?

KR Yeah. Jon ends up getting his way every time with the locations. Like right now we’re working on this Western; the story takes place out near Fields—there’s nothing out there. At first glance it seems super impractical to shoot there. But I’m sure somehow that’s where we’ll end up. It’s cool though; scouting other places and driving around the country helps me figure out the movie, so even if I end up back in Portland it’s a worthwhile process.


GVS I’m usually not that concerned with literal hope. Although I have had really hopeful endings, to the point where it’s, like, ridiculous. I don’t know about your own history, but it seems to follow the presence of hope. Like, when times are good, you’re going to be making a certain kind of film. And when times are not good, you’re going to be making another kind of film. Without any sort of plan. It’s just your reaction to your environment.

KR During the “good years” I couldn’t get a film made to save my life. There were 12 years between my first film River of Grass and Old Joy. I made smaller films, like Ode. But even that has a downer ending.

GVS I’m into downers. As a storyteller, I feel that it’s a valid point of view.

KR This summer I’ve been watching all the Kitchen Sink films from the ’60s. The heroes of those films are all stuck in lower economic classes and resentful of their lack of options. Your films have some of that.

GVS Lack of options?

KR People who are aware that people are living another way but they can’t get to it—whatever the restraints are; it might not be class.

GVS Right. I think in my sense, it’s the audience that’s aware. Probably more than the characters. It depends on which film. In certain films that can be the theme. Or there’s indication that maybe the characters are aware but you’re not sure. I’m usually not committing to that.

KR I guess your characters aren’t so interested in being part of the majority or whatever the idea of the American dream is.

GVS In Wendy and Lucy there was a feeling that I don’t think I’ve ever actually had, and it did relate to certain situations, especially with Italian neorealist films, now that you mention that you actually were watching them.

KR In those films there’s the theme of certain people not being of any use to society—maybe they’re too old or poor so they’re a blight—they’re like stray dogs.

source: bombsite.com

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In this blog I intend to do some historical justice to the many, many women who have contributed with their genius, creativity, adventurous spirit, nurturing - amongst other qualities - to the apparent linear and male dominated prescribed notion of History. This is just the beggining.