The Royal Road

2016 | Arts & Literature / Documentary / Experimental / Lesbian / New Release / Women's Studies | 65m | USA
Directors: Jenni Olson

“As personal as it is political … a profound lesson on intimacy and history. —Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

“A beautiful, haunting history lesson.” —Out Magazine

“Top LGBT Pick of Sundance”—The Advocate “Full of love stories … Recommended viewing.” —AfterEllen.com

A cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo—all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voice-over cameo by Tony Kushner.

This bold, innovative film from acclaimed San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale.

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Reviews and Awards

“A beguiling meditation … serenely accomplished.” —Dennis Harvey, Variety

“A humorous exploration of butch romantic desires.” — Berenice Reynaud, Senses of Cinema

“A breathtaking cinematic essay … a masterpiece.” —Sam Fragoso, RogerEbert.com

“As personal as it is political, Olson’s meditative project offers a profound lesson on intimacy and history.” — Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

“One of the most ambitious documentary projects at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. [A] deeply personal cinematic docu-poem.” —Ryan Lattanzio, Indiewire.com

Winner: Best LGBTQ Film — Ann Arbor Film Festival

Winner: Best Feature — Queer Porto LGBT Film Festival

Special Jury Mention — Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI)

Special Jury Mention — Dokufest: International Documentary and Short Film Festival

Lili Award: Documentary Special Mention — MIX Copenhagen LGBT Film Festival

Official Selection: 2015 Sundance Film Festival