Artist Development

The Royal Road


A cinematic essay in defense of remembering, The Royal Road offers up a primer on the Spanish colonization of California and the Mexican American War alongside intimate reflections on nostalgia, butch identity and Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo–all against a contemplative backdrop of 16mm urban California landscapes, and featuring a voiceover cameo by Tony Kushner. This bold, innovative film from acclaimed San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Jenni Olson (writer/director/producer) has been programming, researching, collecting, creating and writing about lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) film since 1986 and is one of the world's leading experts on LGBT cinema history. Her debut feature film, The Joy of Life, is an experimental documentary that explores butch identity and the history of suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge. The film world premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and went on to play a pivotal role in renewing debate about the need for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as garnering praise from critics and audiences around the globe for its unique storytelling style. As a film collector and archivist, Olson's historical movie trailer programs have been shown at film festivals around the world, as have her many short films and videos, including her short cinematic elegy to Harvey Milk, 575 Castro St., which was commissioned by for the release of Gus Van Sant's Milk and premiered at Sundance and Berlin in 2009. The film can be seen in a permanent installation at the HRC Action Center & Store (at 575 Castro St. in San Francisco) as well as online at the official Milk website and on the Sundance YouTube Screening Room page. In addition to working on her own creative endeavors, she continues to serve as an advisor to many other filmmakers on a variety of projects as well as championing LGBT films and filmmakers on a daily basis in her job as VP of e-commerce and consumer marketing at Wolfe Video.

Her personal blog can be found at

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Year: 2015
  • Running time: 75 minutes
  • Director(s): Jenni Olson
  • Producer(s): Jenni Olson, Julie Dorf
  • Writer(s): Jenni Olson
  • Cinematographer(s): Sophie Constantinou
  • Editor(s): Dawn Logsdon
  • Website:

FSP 1048