A powerful new female voice in indie film has arrived. The 2014 Berlin International Film Festival will premiere two films from Josephine Decker next month. About Josephine Decker, Lead Programmer of the Berlinale Forum Section, Christoph Terhechte, says, “I haven’t seen such a powerful filmmaking in a long time.”
“Thou Wast Mild & Lovely” and “Butter on the Latch” are both set in sensuous, subtly dangerous spaces, and blossom into wildly climactic endings.
A filmmaker and performer, Decker has collaborated on many works with acclaimed indie director Joe Swanberg. In a role reversal, she directs him in “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely,” world premiering in the Berlinale 2014 Forum Section. Set in the delicate blue hills of Kentucky, “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” is a highly intimate and subtly erotic thriller centering on a father and daughter whose world is turned upside down upon the arrival of a young farmhand. The film features scorching central performances by Swanberg and Sophie Traub who makes her return to the screen after starring in Hollywood blockbusters as a child actress in films such as “Tenderness” opposite Russell Crowe.
The Berlinale 2014 Forum section will also feature the world premiere of Decker’s unique “Butter on the Latch,” a work-in-progress version of which screened at the Maryland Film Festival last May. The work-in-progress version has received acclaim on the festival circuit and was called “an utter exhilaration of cinematic imagination” by The New Yorker and “a sexy, wild romp you have to see to believe” by Indiewire. It was recently named to Film Comment’s “Best Undistributed Films of 2013” list.
“Butter on the Latch” follows Sarah (Sarah Small) and Isolde (Isolde Chae-Lawrence), two friends who reunite during their stay at a Balkan music camp in the beautiful woods of Mendocino, California. Their trip, initially a fun bonding experience, takes a southward turn when Sarah becomes interested in handsome fellow camper Steph (Charlie Hewson).
While unafraid of pushing boundaries to their extremes and of dismissing convention, Decker makes strong narrative choices in both films. Exploring a darkness akin to that of murder ballads and folk tales, she draws from the greats. “Thou Wast Mild and Lovely” was inspired by Steinbeck’s East of Eden while “Butter on the Latch” grew out of a Bulgarian folk song.
The double-bill will be a return to Berlin for Josephine. She played one of the lead roles in Joe Swanberg’s “Art History,” which premiered in Berlin in 2011.