JUNIPER TREE, THE
An unsung talent in her lifetime, director, professor and Fulbright scholar Nietzchka Keene's stark, stunning debut feature THE JUNIPER TREE is loosely based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name, and stars Björk in her first onscreen performance. The film premiered to glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991 and led Keene to direct HEROINE OF HELL (1996), starring Catherine Keener, and BAREFOOT TO JERUSALEM (2008), the latter completed after her tragically early death in 2004. Set in medieval Iceland, THE JUNIPER TREE follows Margit (Björk, in a riveting performance) and her older sister Katla (Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir) as they flee for safety after their mother is burned to death for witchcraft. Finding shelter and protection with Johan (Valdimar Örn Flygenring) and his resentful young son, Jonas (Geirlaug Sunna Þormar), the sisters help form an impromptu family unit that's soon strained by Katla's burgeoning sorcery. Photographed entirely on location in the stunning landscapes of Iceland in spectacular black-and-white by Randy Sellars, THE JUNIPER TREE is a deeply atmospheric film, evocative of Carl Theodor Dreyer's DAY OF WRATH and Ingmar Bergman's THE VIRGIN SPRING, and filled with indelible waking dream sequences (courtesy of legendary experimental filmmaker Pat O'Neill). A potent allegory for misogyny and its attendant tragedies, THE JUNIPER TREE is a major rediscovery for arthouse audiences. New restoration by the Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. (Note courtesy of Arbelos.) DIR/SCR/PROD Nietzchka Keene, from the story by the Brothers Grimm. Iceland, 1990, b&w, 78 min. In English. NOT RATED
AFI Member passes accepted.
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