COURTESY SOPHIA CONSTANTINOU/ SAN FRANCISCO FILM SOCIETYIn “The Royal Road

COURTESY SOPHIA CONSTANTINOU/ SAN FRANCISCO FILM SOCIETYIn “The Royal Road

Jenni Olson's 'Royal Road' a powerful, personal film

A deeply personal, remarkably intelligent and profoundly moving experience, Jenni Olson's “The Royal Road” – screening twice this week during the San Francisco International Film Festival – is not easily labeled.

Olson says she no longer describes her work as experimental film: “Lately I've become fond of calling it a 'stream of consciousness’ film, because there are so many elements that tend to flow from one thing to another.”

“The Royal Road” begins with El Camino Real, the highway that connects the lovelorn butch lesbian San Francisco narrator and the elusive object of her affection in Los Angeles.

It also connects the plot threads of Alfred Hitchcock's “Vertigo,” which Olson cleverly untangles over the course of her 65-minute film.

“Living in San Francisco is basically like living on the set of this film,” she says. “I remember that the first few times I saw it, I had this curious experience of not being able to remember what the plot was, and so each time it was as though I was seeing it for the first time. I found myself getting deeper and deeper layers of personal meaning from it each time.”

She also discusses Father Junipero Serra, exploring a more politicized angle rather than the romanticized one often presented in works about California history.

“In the course of writing and researching, he emerged as this kind of lead actor in the tale,” she says. “I almost feel like I should have added him to the credits.”

An expert on LGBT cinema history, Olson's technique is to show beautiful, meditative shots of serene San Francisco landscapes, buildings and alleys, empty of humans – though sometimes the wind blows and things move, or a pigeon flies by, or a car passes.

“I think that we are all really deeply craving the experience of slowing down and being present in the landscape around us. It's a very powerful thing not easily achieved,” she says.

Olson took a long road making “The Royal Road.” Her last full-length movie, “The Joy of Life,” about suicides from the Golden Gate Bridge, was released 10 years ago.

While obtaining funding for her work is as challenging as ever, she continues to write, has plenty of ideas, and retains her sense of humor: “Let me just take this opportunity to say I am actively in search of an old-school patron. I will shoot experimental urban landscape films for food,” she says.

IF YOU GO

The Royal Road

Presented by S.F. International Film Festival

Where: Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, 1551 Post St., S.F.

When: 6:15 p.m. April 29, 8:45 p.m. April 30

Tickets: $15

Contact: www.sfiff.org

artsEl CaminoJenni OlsonMoviesRoyal Road

Just Posted

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power as damage mounts

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read