Film Type: Drama

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Gavagai

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“An astonishment, realized with a technique and a touch that are unique in the current cinema…An extraordinary and memorable film”—Richard Brody, The New Yorker.

 

Rob Tregenza’s uncompromising cinematic vision and devotion has, among other things, led him to direct such celebrated Independent films as Talking to Strangers, The Arc and Inside Out and to work with Jean-Luc Godard and, as a cinematographer with particular belief in long takes, for Alex Cox and Bela Tarr. Gavagai is his wonderful new film. “In this innovative and moving project, Director Rob Tregenza and screenwriter Kirk Kjeldsen have adapted the poetry of the Norwegian writer Tarjei Vesaas (1897-1970) to the screen. Andreas Lust ( Revanche ) plays Carsten Neuer, a grieving husband whose wife had been translating Vesaas’ poems into Chinese before her death. Neuer travels to Telemark, Vesaas’ home turf, partly in the hopes of finding a fitting resting place, and partly in an attempt to come to terms with his grief. Immense care has been taken to set up a field of resonances between this storyline, Vesaas’ writing, and the Norwegian landscapes invoked by the poems and shot on location in splendid 35mm. Counterpoints between Vesaas’ words and Neuer’s situation invoke the core problems involved in all sorts of translations. (The title, Gavagai , was the philosopher Willard van Orman Quine’s famous term for a word in an imaginary language that, perhaps like life itself, can be interpreted in multiple ways.) This film does not feel like an intellectual game, but rather a slow-burning odyssey in the face of death. Through its subtle treatment of the twists and turns of individual loss, Gavagai stands as both a remarkable homage to an important figure in Scandinavian literature and a humor-tinged journey into the underworld of grief”– J. M. Tyree, author of Vanishing Streets , Our Secret Life in the Movies.

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About the Director

Rob Tregenza (born November 14, 1950) is a North American cinematographer, film director, and producer. Besides shooting his own projects, Tregenza also worked as a director of photography with other directors, including Béla Tarr (Werckmeister Harmonies), Claude Miller (Marching Band), Pierre William Glenn (The Sad and Lonely Death of Edgar Allan Poe), and Alex Cox (Three Businessmen). Tregenza earned his PhD from UCLA in 1982. He has produced, directed and photographed four feature films: Talking to Strangers (1987), which appeared at the Berlin International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival; The Arc (1991), a co-production with Film Four International which showed in Berlin, Edinburgh, Toronto, and Chicago; Inside/Out (1997), which screened at Cannes, Toronto, Rotterdam, and Sundance; and Gavagai (2016).

Tregenza's first feature, Talking to Strangers, won him acclaim and the eye and praise of Jean-Luc Godard, who personally selected the film in 1996 to be showcased at the Toronto Film Festival. Richard Brody, of The New Yorker, wrote of the main character, Jesse, in the film: "The drive for [his] purity extends through all domains—intimate, intellectual, artistic, and, for that matter, religious—as the quest for experience comes into conflict with the yearning for the realization of a higher, even transcendently great, ideal." Tregenza's third feature, Inside/Out, premiered at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section.

Tregenza's fourth feature film, GAVAGAI (2016) was shot in 35mm, in Telemark,Norway. It stars Andreas Lust (The Robber 2010, Revanche 2008), Anni-Kristiina Juuso (The Cuckoo 2009) and Mikkel Gaup (Kautokeino Rebellion 2008) GAVAGAI was based on 15 poems by Tarjei Vesaas.