|Born||1964 (age 54–55)|
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter|
Early Life and Education
Reichardt was born in 1964 and raised in Miami, Florida. She developed a passion for photography when she was young. Her parents were law enforcement officers who separated when she was young. She earned her MFA at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Aside from working as a director, she also makes money by teaching at several liberal arts colleges.
Her debut film River of Grass was released in 1994. It was nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It was named as one of the best films of 1995 by the Boston Globe, Film Comment, and Village Voice. Reichardt then had trouble making another feature film, saying "I had 10 years from the mid-1990s when I couldn’t get a movie made. It had a lot to do with being a woman. That’s definitely a factor in raising money. During that time, it was impossible to get anything going, so I just said, ‘Fuck you!’ and did Super 8 shorts instead."
In 1999, she completed her sophomore feature, Ode, based on Herman Raucher's novel Ode to Billie Joe. Next, she made two short films, Then a Year, made in 2001, and Travis, which deals with the Iraq War, in 2004. In these two films, critics have noted that she makes clear her displeasure with the Bush administration and their handling of the Iraq War in a subtle manner that she often does.
Most of her films are regarded by critics to be part of the minimalist movement in films.
In 2006, she completed Old Joy, based on a short story in Jon Raymond's collection Livability. Daniel London and singer-songwriter Will Oldham portray two friends who reunite for a camping trip to the Cascades and Bagby Hot Springs, near Portland, Oregon. The film won awards from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and Sarasota Film Festival. Notably, it was the first American film to win the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Neil Kopp won the Producer's Award at the 2007 Independent Spirit Awards for his work on Old Joy and Paranoid Park.
For her next film, Wendy and Lucy, she and Jon Raymond adapted another story from Livability. The film explores the themes of loneliness and hopelessness through the story of a woman looking for her lost dog. The film was released in December 2008 and earned Oscar buzz for lead actress Michelle Williams. It was nominated for Best Film and Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards.
In 2013, her film Night Moves debuted in competition at the 70th Venice International Film Festival. The film was considered a shift in tone from her other slower and more melancholic films due to the story suggesting a more intense thriller about a secret plot to blow up a dam.
Reichardt's latest film, Certain Women, is based on Maile Meloy's 2009 collection of short stories, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, and was shot in March/April 2015 in Montana. Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and Kristen Stewart are starring. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) bought the rights to distribution. The film premiered January 24, 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival. Reichardt won the top award at the 2016 London Film Festival for Certain Women.
In October 2016, Reichardt revealed that for her next film she will be collaborating with author Patrick DeWitt in an adaptation of his novel Undermajordomo Minor, which could possibly be shot outside of the U.S. In October 2018, it was announced Reichardt had put Undermajordomo Minor on hold and would instead reunite with Raymond to direct First Cow, an adaptation of his novel The Half-Life.
She edits her films herself and has a reputation as a very efficient filmmaker.
Overall, the films that she has directed have all received positive reviews from critics, with all of them being above 80% (certified fresh) on the film reviews aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with the highest being Certain Women (91%). Being a director working in indie cinema, her films have not been huge hits at the box office, with Certain Women being the most successful at $1.1 million.
Style and Themes
Reichardt’s films have often been called minimalist and realist, with film critic A. O. Scott describing Wendy and Lucy as part of a new American Independent cinema he termed "Neo-Neo Realism", primarily due to its thematic and aesthetic similarity to the classic Italian neorealist films like Rome Open City and Paisan. Reichardt herself has stated that her films are "just glimpses of people passing through". She also recognises her style of minimalist storytelling, saying that "A movie is a series of reveals, essentially, and then you're supposed to sit in a room and tell someone what it all means. That goes against everything that I just worked for, so I have no interest in summing it all up. It's all out there". The realist tendencies in her films positions them in line with Matthew Flanagan’s idea of slow cinema due to her use of long takes, minimal dialogue and minimalist action, which are all characteristics of slow cinema that allow the audience to pause for contemplation.
In addition to this realist style, her films often focus on characters who are living in the margins of society, who are not usually represented on screen, or who are in search of a better quality of life and place in the world. She is interested in characters "who don’t have a net, who if you sneezed on them, their world would fall apart". Her films tackle distinct aspects of the American experience that are seldom explored by the commercial film industry. Eric Kohn (from Indiewire) supports this sentiment in his description of her films as "a mesmerising statement on the solitude of everyday life for working-class people who want something better. They’re trapped between a mythology of greatness and the personal limitations that govern their drab realities. By attending to atmosphere and attitude as much as plot, Reichardt has quietly become one of the country’s best chroniclers of the American experience".
Her films often also contain references to modern times and political events. In an interview, she discusses the parallels of Meek’s Cutoff to modern times, saying "Here was the story of this braggart leading a bunch of people into the desert without a plan and becoming completely reliant on the locals who are socially different from him and who he is suspicious of. All of which seemed relevant to the moment" (in reference to the Iraq War and George Bush). Reichardt has confirmed in many interviews that the character of Meek is intentionally written to be similar with Bush. Wendy and Lucy also reflects the economic hardships that affected millions of Americans (particularly women, whom the film suggests are affected more than men) as a result of the high costs and collateral damage from the war.
Furthermore, critics have noted that her films frequently have ambiguous endings that leave the audience hanging and unsatisfied. Xan Brooks (from The Guardian) uses the examples of "wonky Kurt, left wandering city streets at the end of Old Joy, hapless Wendy, still looking for Alaska, or Meek’s Cutoff’s lost pioneers, forever strung between triumph and disaster. These films do not so much resolve as dissolve. They leave us dangling, forced to write their third acts in our heads”. Reichardt elaborates on this, saying "Maybe I’m suspicious of absolutes. I mean, yes, there is something satisfying about watching an old film when the music rises up and the words come at you – The End. But it would seem absurd to do that at the end of one of my films. It would just make them feel lopsided, because they’re all so short, they cover so little time. We don’t know where these people were before. We spent a week with them and then on they went".
She has also said that she enjoys films that let the audience find their own way into it and come to their own conclusions.
Reichardt’s films all contain feminist ideas in both style and content, rejecting mainstream commercial film making methods and focusing on issues of gender (most of her films have female characters as the lead), but she herself rejects the label of a feminist filmmaker. She rejects mainstream methods by using small budgets, filming on location (the majority of her films are shot in Oregon), and refusing to romanticise the main characters and their struggles. Even in her films that have male characters as protagonists, she still addresses gender issues. In Old Joy, which stars two men and was spoken about in festivals as an LGBT film, the theme of male friendship is highlighted and addressed through the feminised qualities of sensitivity and vulnerability that are rarely seen in mainstream Hollywood cinema. In Night Moves, Dakota Fanning’s character serves as a strong female counterpoint to Jesse Eisenberg’s male protagonist, and the film’s environmental story line reflects eco-feminist values. In addition to her feminist themes, Reichardt rejects mainstream methods through the avant-garde content in her films. River of Grass uses the avant-garde technique of segmenting the narrative via numbers while Certain Women does so via episodes. Reichardt’s use of realism and camera angles rejects the objectification of bodies and challenges the expectations of audiences by lingering on shots of seemingly insignificant images after characters have left a scene.
Reichardt has frequently collaborated with actress Michelle Williams, saying that she enjoys working with her due to her confidence and inquisitive nature, and that she can never guess what she’s going to do.
|1994||River of Grass||Director/Screenwriter|
|2001||Then a Year||Director||Short Film|
|2008||Wendy and Lucy||Director/Screenwriter/Editor|
Awards and Nominations
|1994||Sundance Film Festival||Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic||River of Grass||Nominated|
|1995||Independent Spirit Awards||Best First Feature
Best First Screenplay
Someone to Watch Award
|River of Grass||Nominated|
|2006||Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Independent/Experimental Film and Video Award||Old Joy||Winner|
|2006||Rotterdam International Film Festival||Tiger Award||Old Joy||Winner|
|2006||Sarasota Film Festival||Jury Prize||Old Joy||Winner|
|2008||Cannes Film Festival||Un Certain Regard Award||Wendy and Lucy||Nominated|
|2008||Chicago International Film Festival||Gold Hugo (Best Feature)||Wendy and Lucy||Nominated|
|2010||Venice Film Festival||SIGNIS Award
|2010||Gotham Awards||Gotham Independent Film Award||Meek’s Cutoff||Nominated|
|2013||Venice Film Festival||Golden Lion||Night Moves||Nominated|
|2016||Film Independent Spirit Awards||Best Director||Certain Women||Nominated|
|2016||Gotham Awards||Audience Award
Gotham Independent Film Award (Best Feature)
|2016||London Film Festival||Best Film (Official Competition)||Certain Women||Winner|
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