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, and BFI Film Classics: Salesman.
Norway/Canada/Germany 2016 – DCP – 90 Minutes
Director, Print courtesy: Rob Tregenza
Producers: Kirk Kjeldsen, Tom Papa, Rob Tregenza
Screenplay: Kirk Kjeldsen, Rob Tregenza
Cast: Mikkel Gaup, Anni-Kristiina Juuso, Andreas Lust