“The Royal Road” is a cinematic mash-up of nostalgia, butch identity, and Hitchcock

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LGBT historian and filmmaker Jenni Olson hopes to return to Sundance next year with a new project, The Royal Road. Described as “a cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.” 

The Royal Road is Olson’s first film since 2005’s The Joy of Life, which was a piercing look at the Golden Gate bridge’s history as a suicide landmark.

The Royal Road takes an approach similar to that of The Joy of Life: comparatively static imagery and narration that explores forgotten or overlooked facets of California’s history. The Mexican-American War is a central topic, but it’s laced with personal observations from (presumably Oslon’s) life in California. The trailer suggests a contemplative film built around remembrance—not necessarily to trigger nostalgia, but to offer a meditative space in which to reflect on the past.

With production on The Royal Road nearing its end, Olson is requesting donations to help fund post-production and editing. There’s an easy-to-use donation link at the San Francisco Film Society.  

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