From 1928’s The Passion of Joan of Arc to 2021’s unexpected arthouse blockbuster The Green Knight, the medieval period provides filmmakers with settings and stories that inspire them to push the bounds of stylized imagery and epic storytelling. Inspired by subject matter like the Black Death, the Arthurian legends, the martyrdom of Saint Joan, and the class warfare of Robin Hood, directors such as Rohmer, Preminger, Zeffirelli, Pasolini and Dreyer have retold these classic stories within the context of their own times to highlight the medieval era’s timeless messages of sacrifice, love, and transcendence.
Unlike the more intellectual and sophisticated Renaissance, art from the medieval period was characterized by a bawdy and brutal tone, and it was these kinds of narratives found in works like Boccaccio’s The Decameron and the stories of Marguerite de Navarre that inspired our guest, filmmaker Jeff Baena, in the conception of his film The Little Hours (2017), a black comedy set in 14th century Tuscany, starring Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie as nuns at odds with their profane desires.
Baena has specialized in juxtaposing the cerebral with the vulgar, beginning with his brilliant script for I Heart Huckabees (2004) up to his most recent released film, the chillingly funny and poignant tale of a woman’s descent into mental illness, Horse Girl (2020). Baena will discuss how he was inspired by the transgressive representations of sexuality from the medieval period and why stories that are over a thousand years old are the impetus for some of the most groundbreaking examples of the world’s newest art.
All attendees are welcomed to enjoy a complimentary reception following the program.
Lost & Found at the Movies is generously supported by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association