Four young queers in New York City struggle to maintain their proto-utopian community against the outside world as their lives curiously merge with the 1980's German novel so schön by Ronald M. Schernikau.
A German visual artist, Tonia, comes to New York City in 2017, where she meets her American boyfriend, the academic Franz, and works on an new exhibition of a work built around the legacy of German author Ronald M. Schernikau. Tonia and Franz talk politics, art, and love, go dancing, drink coffee, fuck, protest, and organize alongside their friends, the couple Paul and Erika, a transwoman and musician. When Paul becomes injured by the police following a political action, their social space is momentarily shattered. At the same time, the audience comes to realize that their lives and the film are morphing into a version of Schernikau’s novella so schön, a communist-themed depiction of four lovers in 1980s Berlin, read aloud by the characters throughout the film in voice-over and at the art installation.
An investigation of leftist politics and femme identity in the context of an increasingly right wing world, So Pretty moves freely between fictional depictions and semi-documentary, adaptation and translation, looking towards the artistic and personal worlds its characters generate across time and culture as a space for new tensions and potentials.
“It will all work out, little mouse. It will be something totally different than we can imagine.” -- Ronald M. Schernikau, so schön
Completed. Development funding awarded by Centre national des arts plastiques.
83min / Color / Super 16mm / USA/France / 2019
Written, Directed & Edited by Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli
Cinematography by Bill Kirstein
Produced by 100 Year Films in association with Les Films du Bal
AWARDS AND SCREENINGS.
“Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli’s “So Pretty” stands out as a clear highlight of this year’s festival and the kind of American independent film that deserves the spotlight treatment.
— Vikram Murthi, RogerEbert.com
“Inventing the queer gaze in front of our eyes.”
“Visually sumptuous [...] so eloquent about New York life, yet there’s not much else out there like it. A must-see.”
— Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, Artforum
“[An] excellent meta-theatrical film about love in the 21st century.”
— Carla Moseguí, Cineuropa
“As a document of its moment in time, place and political conjuncture, So Pretty is already of inestimable value, but the film is also marked by assured, sensitive direction and a visual flair that at times matches the intensity of its literary inspiration.”
— Daniel Fairfax, Senses of Cinema
“So Pretty creates a utopia, one built not from grand political gestures, but from friendship and intimacy.”
— Eva Tepest, Der Tagesspiegel
“[A] key document of a specific people in a specific place in an uncertain time.”
— Jordan Cronk, Film Comment
“[A] lovely meditative film. […] Rovinelli is an extraordinary young talent I am keeping my eye on.”
— Vaginal Davis
“Tender and dreamlike images … in which [Rovinelli] goes exploring and asks us with great warmth to follow her. […] So Pretty is an appeal to overcoming divisions and a call for us to build new communities and alliances.”
— Manuel Schubert, TAZ
“A true queer chosen family. Vividly shown. Nothing is shown as “better or more perfect,” but rather as more beautiful. […] They are important and beautiful in every fibre of their individuality, that their way of living and feeling is a political love in a time of conservative backlash. A powerful intervention against the mainstream.”
— Saskia Vineuza and Guiseppina Lettieri, Blog der Jungend Kultur