Pubblicato il 23/01/2020 06:09:27
Premio Cineuropa alla31a Trieste Film Festival
"LILLIAN" un film di Andreas Horvath.
Come si può non amare Andreas Horvath Lillian, un ritratto di una donna allo stesso tempo vulnerabile e determinata che è alla ricerca simbolica di qualcosa di indefinibile, sfidando se stessa e sfidando un cartellone affermando che "le ragazze non fanno l'autostop" in questo film su strada visivamente suggestivo che porta una storia vera dal 1920 bang fino ad oggi? E come non ammirare la magnifica performance dell'artista visiva Patrycja Pàanik,la mise-en-scène del solido approccio documentaristico, e la tenacia quasi ossessiva con cui il regista ha perseguito e realizzato questo progetto?
20/05/2019 - CANNES 2019: Inspired by the 1927 disappearance of Lillian Alling, Andreas Horvath’s modern-day tale has echoes of David Lynch’s Lost Highway and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. The Cannes Directors’ Fortnight has unearthed an absolute gem this year. Andreas Horvath’s Lillian is a road movie across America, which serves up a history lesson on Native Americans, a state-of-the-nation assessment on rural living and an otherworldly thriller with an environmental undertone.
The plot is simple. A young Russian woman with no papers can’t even get a job as a porn star. She is told to return to Russia by a porn producer and, given her lack of financial means, decides to walk back. It’s an idea that seems so preposterous that the only way it can be made plausible is by basing it on a true story. Horvath has been carrying the story of Lillian Alling around with him for 15 years. Alling went missing whilst walking from America to Russia in 1927, and this film is a contemporary interpretation of it.
Salzburg-born Horvath has previously indulged his fascination with the American Midwest in his documentary This Ain’t No Heartland, which won the Grand Prix at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2004. His new film is a hybrid fiction in which he and visual artist Patrycja Płanik travel across America and film scenes in real locations and in real situations. She plays Lillian as a quiet, determined soul, savvy in avoiding dangerous situations (there is an incredible chase sequence across corn fields), but also vulnerable and lost. It’s an essay on loneliness and determination, with America as the canvas. It’s a performance dominated by physical activity, as she washes her feet in sinks, steals clothes – and walks.
It’s a fascinating journey with a myriad of characters that continues in the great vein of European filmmakers, from Bruno Dumont to Wim Wenders, who use the road movie as a template to explore America, and especially the rural areas away from the metropolises. Where Michelangelo Antonioni was fascinated with the Black Panthers in Zabriskie Point, Horvath shows the racial divide with the treatment of Native Americans and the genocide that the modern-day United States is built upon.
Horvath shares with the film’s producer, Ulrich Seidl, a desire to uncover the cruel underbelly of existence. There is also an otherworldly element to the filmmaking – not quite all-out supernatural, as with the work of David Lynch or Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin [+], of which this film is a kindred spirit, but with hints that the spiritual world moves alongside the natural world. It’s a haunting picture, one that links nature and humanity in unexpected and cruel ways. The multi-talented Horvath also took care of the ethereal cinematography and contributed the memorable soundtrack. It is a film full of warnings on billboards, such as “Girls don’t hitchhike”, but more importantly, it is the (mostly disastrous) interactions that Lillian has that show the coldness of America and take us on a slow journey into the abyss.
Lillian was produced by Austria’s Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion GmbH. Its international sales have been entrusted to Dubai-based Cercamon.
Lillian, an emigrant stranded in New York City, decides to walk back to her native Russia. She resolutely starts out on the long journey. A road movie straight across the USA into the freezing temperatures of Alaska. The chronicle of a slow disappearance.
international title: Lillian
original title: Lillian
sales agent: Cercamon (AE)
directed by: Andreas Horvath
film run: 130'
release date: AT 6/09/2019, GR 5/12/2019, FR 11/12/2019, NL 12/03/2020
screenplay: Andreas Horvath
cast: Patrycja Planik
cinematography by: Andreas Horvath, Sonja Aufderklamm
film editing: Michael Palm, Andreas Horvath
music: Andreas Horvath
producer: Ulrich Seidl
production: Seidl Film Produktion
distributor: Ama Films, Nour Films, Contact Film Cinematheek
Andreas Horvath • Director of Lillian
"‘We want to see what happens on the road,’ we said. Potential backers just shook their heads"
Articolo by Jan Lumholdt.
22/05/2019 - CANNES 2019: We sat down with Austrian documentarian Andreas Horvath to unpick his fifth feature-length work, Lillian.
Acclaimed Austrian documentary filmmaker Andreas Horvath (This Ain’t No Heartland, Earth’s Golden Playground) is no stranger to North America’s backwoods. For his fifth feature-length work, Lillian [+], screening in the Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival, he yet again embarks on the journey, specifically following in the footsteps of an Eastern European woman who travelled from New York to Russia – on foot.
Cineuropa: Lillian is dedicated to one Lillian Alling – “who disappeared while attempting to walk from New York to Russia”. How long has she been on your mind?
Andreas Horvath: For 15 years. I met this writer who had just come back from Alaska, who told me the story of this woman. I couldn’t sleep that night. I immediately started seeing images in my mind, close to my own portraits of North America from films and photo books. I knew the areas and the regions she went through and sensed a fantastic film. I started looking for financing. In 2009, I got a Canadian connection that fell through, and then an Austrian company that sent me to Alaska. This resulted in another film, Earth's Golden Playground, about gold miners in Dawson City in Yukon, but Lillian was still unmade. Then Ulrich Seidl picked it up. And here we are now – in Cannes, of all places.
And how did you find your protagonist?
Through great desperation and by looking at 700 candidates. We did not want an actress. We placed ads in papers looking for adventurous women. Then I met Patrycja Planik through mutual friends – she is also a photographer and works with visual arts. She had exactly that special something: she was determined, decisive and vulnerable. Lillian is looking for something and we don’t know what, and Patrycja conveys this mystery perfectly.
The real Lillian embarked on her journey in the mid-1920s. You have decided to move her to a contemporary setting. Why?
I wanted universal, “symbolic” imagery. We went to the places just as they are today. We also, to enhance the documentary feel, did not have a script. We had some loose ideas but no structured notes. We had one storyboard in the whole film.
Wasn’t that quite hazardous?
Very. And that’s why it was very hard to finance. We had at least one total pitching disaster – at Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland. They were given no idea of what this film would be like. “We want to see what happens on the road,” we said. Potential backers just shook their heads.
How long did the shoot take?
We were in the USA for nine months, travelling all the way from New York to Alaska. We then went back home for some editing and then back again for more material. We filmed chronologically, apart from the Bering Strait scenes, which I shot at the very beginning. We were at most five in the team, including Patrycja, who came up with many great ideas.
Are all the characters we meet just themselves, as in ordinary people you met along the way?
Yes, with two exceptions: the porn guy at the beginning and a crazy redneck who is not really crazy. The rest were happy to participate and cooperate. Americans are wonderful that way – more so than Europeans, I’ve noticed.
Can you tell us more about Ulrich Seidl’s involvement? He is quite a personality himself. Did he influence the look of the film in any way?
Well, some of his films, like Dog Days, have just got under my skin and stayed there. Perhaps that can be seen in my own work… But we met, and he just said, “I can see that you know what you want – and I will make it happen.” And he did. We had very little contact and were not in touch even once during the shoot: no phone, no email; just his generosity. I don’t even know if he likes the film. But he believed in a guy who was headed for the wilderness with an unknown non-actress in order to shoot for one year without a script. That’s quite a risk. And he took it.
Lillian has been categorised as your first fiction feature after a number of documentaries. Do you have any thoughts on this new moniker?
I’m even eligible for the Caméra d’Or at this year’s Cannes, somewhat to my surprise. It’s hard for me to say. Did I suddenly become a fiction filmmaker? Creatively, I feel I’m at a crossroads right now, with no idea where to go next. I don’t personally see this as a fiction project, but rather, as a perfect mixture of fiction and reality. Lillian would never have looked like it does without embracing the documentary aspect of it all.
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