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Lynne Ramsay: Rough and Tumble

“She’s the real McCoy. Lynne is making films in her head all the time. She is one of those rare directors who creates the kind of films that just would not be there if she didn’t make them.”
–Tilda Swinton

Bursting onto the scene at age 30 with the riveting Ratcatcher, which was praised by the New York Times as a “brilliant directorial debut,” Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay has received worldwide attention for the three features now under her belt. Born in Glasgow, she first studied photography, then focused on cinematography at England’s National Film and Television School; her subsequent filmography is renowned for its bold visual sensibility. Her final school project, Small Deaths, went on to win the Best Short Film prize at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival (as did her third short, Gasman). In fact, each of her features has premiered at Cannes, and she garnered a Palme d’Or nomination at the 2011 festival for her latest work, the haunting We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Ramsay’s films plumb the depths of childhood and young adulthood, unblinkingly tackling such difficult issues as grief, guilt, family dynamics, and the rippling repercussions of death. The “rough and tumble” moniker of this series articulates the defining quality of the work: social realism that hits hard and hits home. But it is also filled with vivid artistry and a rich poetry that blur the line between dreams and reality—at turns both brutal and subtle.

Spotlighting a filmmaker who has hit her stride, this In Context retrospective and premiere showcases a body of work that “bears a powerful personal imprint…. [Ramsay’s] films are very much the product of an original vision” (Sight and Sound).

Thanks to Dan Berger (Oscilloscope Laboratories), Haden Guest and David Pendleton (Harvard Film Archive), Steven DeMille (Image Entertainment) and Brooke Ford and William Gruenberg (Millennium Entertainment) for their program assistance.