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by Vadim Rizov
Before Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli began the bulk of production on her second feature So Pretty, she wrote an essay for this site outlining some of the goals and background behind the production:
Film - Adaptation - Gay - Novel - Ronald
The film is an adaptation of a 1980s German gay novel [Ronald M. Schernikau’s So Schön] that I am transposing and translating to a cast of feminine people of many genders in 2018, New York City. […] Given the explicit gender-trouble and queer elements of So Pretty, as well as the fact that it takes seriously the novella’s paraphrased subtitle “a utopian film,” my film must create an image of a queer and transgender community, and an associated leftist politics, as well as creating an image of a kind of “trans film” that focuses not simply on the hardships of being transgender, but the new aesthetic, narrative and imaginative possibilities our lives can open up. The film must become an image of some kind of utopia, for both film and society, even as it is set among the here and now populated by fallible humans who make mistakes.
A scene early on establishes the atmosphere of shared calm: it’s morning in a New York apartment, and the kitchen area slowly fills up for morning coffee and chatter. Residents and guests enter, take their seats and chat, their voices creating one sustained hum—the focus is on a soothing atmosphere bathed in morning sunlight rather than the establishment of individual character arcs or dialogues. The opening scene, a fixed-camera sustained shot from a car pulling into an airport, is punctuated by an unbelievably dirty look shot the camera’s way by a man standing outside terminal, one way reality routinely punctuates the otherwise carefully controlled images.
Schernikau - Text - Starting - Point - Element
Schernikau’s text is both the structural starting point and an element of the story,...
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