With her three feature films to date, Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher (b. 1982) has defined an important place on the cutting edge of contemporary European art cinema, melding documentary and narrative traditions to tell moving stories rich with religious and mythopoeic resonance and centered around young yet not so innocent characters. While recalling the novel and at times unexpectedly intertwined modes of regionalist neorealism and folkloric fantasy refined by the late Ermanno Olmi, Rohrwacher’s films are also charged by a distinctly feminist perspective, often shaped around the vision and experiences of young women and usually questioning, although only obliquely critiquing, the patriarchal institutions of Church and Family. Like the young heroine of her first film, Corpo Celeste, poised on the cusp of adolescence and confirmation into the Catholic faith, Rohrwacher’s characters embody the forces of inexorable transformation that they dispassionately observe around them. The abandoned towns, ruined houses and elegiac landscapes that appear throughout Rohrwacher’s films hint at a deeper time and memory at work: a geological and mythical time whose atavistic past ambiguously intermingles with the films' uncertain, almost spectral, present tense.
The Harvard Film Archive is thrilled to welcome Alice Rohrwacher as a 2018-19 Baby Jane Holzer Visiting Artist in Film. – Haden Guest