Kelly Reichardt

Kelly Reichardt

Fellow: Awarded 2009
Field of Study: Film

Competition: US & Canada

Bard College

Born in Miami, Florida, Kelly Reichardt is a screenwriter, director, and editor whose body of work explores the changing rhythms and compositions of the American landscape. Her films depict narratives of the road and stories of those who navigate them, employing current political themes to offset or re-examine traditional movie myths and popular genres.

Ms. Reichardt’s first feature film, River of Grass (16mm, 1994), takes place along the sun drenched highways of southern Florida, and is a deconstruction of the outlaw-couple-on-the-run film genre in which the heroine’s romantic fantasies are undercut by the painful realities of her limited environment and resources.

Her 1998 short, Ode, is a Super-8 adaptation of the Herman Raucher novel Ode to Billy Joe, a story about the legendary Billy Joe McAllister, who jumped off the Tallahatchee bridge. Shot on location in rural North Carolina, the film explores issues of gay sexuality, repression, and teen suicide.

Old Joy (Super 16mm, 2006) is an exploration of contemporary liberal masculinity. In the tamed wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, two old friends—Mark, upright citizen, expectant father, and the wayward Kurt—confront each other in a subtle shoot-out over issues of spiritual openness and progressive lifestyle.

Updating the socially engaged cinematic traditions of neorealism, Wendy and Lucy (Super 16mm, 2008) follows Wendy Carroll as she drives to Alaska in hopes of finding love and security in Bush-era America, a time of war and economic polarization. The film addresses issues of sympathy and generosity at the edges of American life, revealing the limits and depths of people’s duty to each other in tough times.

Ms. Reichardt’s current project, Meek’s Cutoff (35mm), takes place in 1845 on the dry plains of Oregon’s high desert. Based in part on travel journals written by the men and women of the original journey west, Meek’s Cutoff offers a vision of the earliest days of the American frontier culture that bears certain echoes of our own contemporary situation, with questions of torture, intercultural communication and male leadership playing out in strangely familiar patterns.

Kelly Reichardt keeps body and soul together teaching in the Film and Electronic Arts Division of Bard College.


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