Lyrical, digressive and innovative in scope and form, Jenni Olson’s latest 16mm essay film portrays the mundane urban landscapes of California and Minnesota as it unfolds an ambitious cinematic treatise. In her wide-ranging voiceover soliloquy she reflects on growing up queer and gender non-conforming in Minnesota, prompting a diverse array of digressions ranging from Prince to George Floyd to the brutal French colonial history of the state — to her Scandinavian-Minnesotan alcoholic family (astutely pondering the question: “How does anyone survive this landscape?”) An urban pastoral and a spiritual experience in its own right, this poetic exploration transcends the conventional categories of cinema.
Jenni Olson is an independent writer and non-fiction filmmaker based in Berkeley, California. Her two feature-length essay films — The Joy of Life (2005) and The Royal Road (2015) — premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and, like her many short films, have screened internationally to awards and acclaim. Her work as an experimental filmmaker and her expansive personal collection of LGBTQ film prints and memorabilia has recently been acquired by the Harvard Film Archive, and her reflection on the last 30 years of LGBT film history, in The Oxford Handbook of Queer Cinema, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2021. Jenni is currently co-director of The Bressan Project, devoted to restoring and re-releasing the films of pioneering gay filmmaker Arthur J. Bressan, Jr. Jenni’s work as a film historian includes the Lambda Award nominated The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle Books, 2005) and her many vintage movie trailer presentations (Homo Promo, Afro Promo, etc.). Her film criticism has appeared in numerous publications including Filmmaker Magazine, The Advocate and the San Francisco Bay Guardian and she is currently a film columnist for Logo TV’s NewNowNext. Jenni is a former co-director of the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, the oldest and largest queer film festival on the planet, and served as director of marketing at LGBT film distributor Wolfe Video for more than a decade where she also created the global LGBT streaming VOD platform WolfeOnDemand.com. She co-founded the pioneering LGBT online platform, PlanetOut.com as well as the legendary Queer Brunch at Sundance. She is also the proud proprietor of Butch.org. Jenni has been widely honored for her creative writing and innovative non-fiction storytelling. She holds a BA in Film Studies from the University of Minnesota and is currently an independent consultant in marketing and digital film distribution. A 2018 MacDowell Fellow, Jenni is now in development on her third feature-length essay film, The Quiet World and an essayistic memoir of the same name.