Now playing in theaters!
“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.
German businessman Carsten Neuer travels to Norway to finish the impossible translation of some Norwegian poems by Tarjei Vesaas into Chinese, a project of his late wife. He hires Niko, a down-on-his-luck tour guide, to drive him to the poet’s home and places of inspiration to stimulate his own translation. On the road, the ghost of Carsten’s wife appears to him, while Niko struggles with the sudden consequences of his girlfriend’s pregnancy. On this journey, two very different men come to realize the transforming power of love, the limits of language, and the human need for friendship.
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.
Maine International Film Festival, July 14-23, 2017
Nordic Northwest, Portland OR – March 17, 2018
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN – April 18, 2018
Cinema Arts Theater, Fairfax, VA – July 22, 2018
Cinema Village, New York, New York – Opening August 3, 2018!
Laemmle Music Hall, Los Angeles, CA – Opening August 10, 2018!
Violet Crown Cinemas, Santa Fe, NM – Opening August 17, 2018
Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, ME – Opening September 7, 2018
Lake Worth Playhouse, Lake Worth, FL – Opening September 14, 2018
Magic Lantern Theater, Spokane, WA – Opening September 14, 2018
Lyric Cinema, Fort Collins, CO – Opening September 24, 2018
Cleveland Cinematheque, Cleveland, OH – Opening October 19, 2018
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA – Opening October 19, 2018
Knickerbocker Theater, Holland, MI – Opening November 12, 2018
Avalon Theater, Washington, DC – Opening November 14, 2018
Nevada Theater, Nevada City, CA – Opening November 18, 2018
Facets Cinematheque, Chicago, IL – Opening February 1, 2019
Frontier Cafe, Brunswick, ME – March 15 – 21, 2019
Liberty Theatre of Camas-Washougal, Camas, WA – Opening March 29, 2019
VCU Cinema, Richmond, VA – Opening April 9, 2019
Palm Theater, San Luis Obispo, CA
About the Director
Talking to Strangers (USA, 1987); Panorama, Berlinale (1988); Toronto International Film Festival (1988)
The Arc (USA / United Kingdom, 1990); Panorama, Berlinale (1991)
Inside/Out (USA, 1997); Un Certain Regard, Cannes (1997), Toronto International
Film Festival (1997), Sundance Film Festival (1998)
Rob Tregenza has written, directed and photographed three award-winning independent feature films, which have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the “Un Certain Regard” category and the Berlin Film Festival in the Panorama section. Over the years, his films have also appeared at the festivals of Toronto, Sundance, Rotterdam and Edinburgh. He has also distributed films that include Jacques Rivette's "Haut/bas/fragile" ("Up/down/fragile"), Michael Haneke's "The Seventh Continent" and Aleksandr Rogoschkin's "Chekist" through Cinema Parallel.
His work has been positively reviewed in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times and by such prominent critics as Vincent Canby, Dave Kehr, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Roger Ebert. A retrospective of his feature films was shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. in 1999. But perhaps the highest recognition has been the attentions of one of the most important European Directors of the 20th Century, Jean-Luc Godard, who hand-selected Tregenza’s “Talking to Strangers” to screen again at the 1996 Toronto International Film Festival. Godard describes passages in Tregenza’s films as “remarkable and at times astonishing, that is, softly imbued with the marvelous.” He further explains that in Tregenza’s cinematic world, “reality walks hand in hand with fiction.”
The essay, “Cinq Lettres à et sur Rob Tregenza” (“Five Letters to and about Rob Tregenza”) appears in the book Jean-Luc Godard: Documents, published in 2006 by the modern and contemporary art institution of Paris, Le Centre Pompidou. Tregenza has also had an award-winning career as a television commercial director and cameraman for clients like IBM, DuPont, CSX, Blue Cross Blue Shield and numerous non-profits and has worked as a Director of Photography for other independent filmmakers such as Bela Tarr and Alex Cox. Tregenza has shot extensively in Africa, South America, Asia, Eastern Europe, Spain and the United Kingdom. Tregenza is a Canadian citizen; he received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and is currently the head of the Cinema program at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts.