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Opens on March 19

Director: Ulrike Ottinger Run Time: 126 min. Release Year: 1981 Language: German

Starring: Albert Heins, Claudio Pantoja, Delphine Seyrig, Hiro Uchiyama, Magdalena Montezuma

German avant-garde superstar and Werner Schroeter muse Magdalena Montezuma plays the gender-fluid Orlando-Orlanda with Delphine Seyrig as their subsequent femme foils in this outlandish, radical riff on Virginia Woolf’s classic novel by queer icon, filmmaker, and artist Ulrike Ottinger. A grand pageantry freak show that nods to Tod Browning — the film literally includes a “Freak City” sign in neon lights and which Ottinger calls “a small theatre of the world,” Freak Orlando is a rigorously idiosyncratic and fragmentary retelling of the history of humankind — a world filled with myths, codes, gnomic secrets, cruelty, and celebration. Seyrig is fearless in her multiple roles, as a topless tree of life with a Botticelli smile; an empathetic, daydreaming department store announcer with electrified Bride of Frankenstein hair; a mother of twins; a conjoined twin sister (to Jackie Raynal, filmmaker and longtime Rohmer editor), a scantily clad dancer named “Bunny Helena,” and more. In the last decade of her life, Seyrig appeared in three of Ottinger’s films after having approached the New German filmmaker at a festival and congratulated her on her courage and originality. In response, Ottinger gave her some of her most outré yet heartfelt roles.

“If Sally Potter’s Orlando is regarded as a spiritually faithful adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s literary classic of time-space and gender fluidity, Ulrike Ottinger’s Freak Orlando utilizes the uncited source material as the barest point of departure for a freewheeling, confounding, frequently hilarious, often opaque, and awe-inspiring picaresque paean to, indeed, letting one’s freak flag fly” (Screen Slate).

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