THE JUNIPER TREE (EINITRÉÐ)
Nietschka Keene’s unheralded debut features a 20-year-old Björk as Margit, who escapes with sister Katla when their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. To ensure their protection, Katla casts a love spell on a young widower, but his son is not so easily persuaded. In this insightful interpretation of the Brothers Grimm tale, Keene subverts a folkloric obsession with women and witchcraft to underscore the uncertain safety of women in a male-dominated society. Its dynamic score and rich, black-and-white cinematography imbue the sprawling Icelandic tundra with a delicate strangeness, obscuring the boundaries between reality and illusion, the living and the dead. THE JUNIPER TREE was restored in 2018 by the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. The film screens at AFI FEST as a world-premiere digital restoration. – Malin Kan
Nietzchka Keene was an American writer and director. After receiving the Fulbright Grant, she made THE JUNIPER TREE, starring the Icelandic singer Björk in her first film role. A graduate of UCLA Film School, she taught filmmaking and editing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison until her death in 2004.