Follow ‘The Royal Road’

The Royal Road from Wolfe Video on Vimeo.

A cinematic essay set against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, THE ROYAL ROAD offers up intimate reflections on nostalgia, the pursuit of unavailable women, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo alongside a primer on Junipero Serra’s Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War. The film world premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and has won critical attention and awards at festivals throughout the world.

Deceptively simple landscapes serve as the framework for the film’s lyrically written voiceover, which combines rigorous historical research with a stream-of consciousness personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale. A fascinating and unlikely reinvention story, THE ROYAL ROAD simultaneously explores cinematic spiritual channeling, the conquest and colonization of Mexico and the American Southwest, fading historical Californian urban landscapes, and the passions found in butch identity to achieve an achingly beautiful and poetic defense of remembering. Probing roads from El Camino Real, to the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, to the road right outside the front door, Olson crafts a deeply intelligent and transcending observation of the human condition that reaches for redemption in the embrace of history, nostalgia, mindfulness, and sheer beauty.

THE ROYAL ROAD is especially timely as one of Olson’s topics of exploration is the legacy of Spanish missionary Junipero Serra (recently canonized by the Pope amidst much controversy and objections from Native American activists) — just one of the film’s many fascinating strands of reflection.

Jenni Olson is a pioneering filmmaker, journalist, curator and film historian. She is also one of the world’s leading experts on LGBT cinema history. Her debut feature film, The Joy of Life, world premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, also earning the 2005 Outfest Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement and the 2005 NewFest Award for Best U.S. Screenplay. Jenni’s most recent short film, 575 Castro St. premiered at Sundance and the Berlin Panorama in 2009. Jenni has also written and directed the short films: Levi’s 501 Commercial (1991), Sometimes (1994), Blow-up (co-directed with Kadet Kuhne, 1997), Blue Diary (1998), Meep Meep! (2000) and Matzo Maidels (2003). Since premiering at Sundance in 2015, her innovative new feature-length essay film, The Royal Road has earned numerous awards including Best LGBTQ Film from the prestigious Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Founded in 1985 and now celebrating 30 years as the largest exclusive distributor of lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) films, Wolfe’s release slate includes some of the most popular LGBT films of 2015, including the Swiss Oscar and Golden Globes submission The Circle; the gorgeous lesbian drama by renowned Venezuelan director Fina Torres, Liz in September; and the epic international production by Finland’s Mika Kaurasmäki, The Girl King. In 2016, Wolfe’s releases include the Thai Oscar submission How To Win at Checkers (Every Time); Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party; Naz & Maalik; Those People, Parched; and Margarita With A Straw. Wolfe’s library of beloved modern classics includes such acclaimed hits as Cloudburst, Undertow, Desert Hearts and Big Eden. Wolfe’s complete motion picture library can be found at as well as at national retailers such as Netflix, Amazon and VOD destinations such as Comcast, Time Warner, Hulu, iTunes and Find more info online at

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