Lillian, an emigrant stranded in New York City, decides to walk back to her native Russia. She resolutely starts out on the long journey. A road movie
straight across the USA into the freezing temperatures of Alaska. The chronicle of a slow disappearance.
Austria 2019 | 128 min
with Patrycja Płanik as Lillian
Director, Screenplay, Camera, Music: Andreas Horvath | Editor: Michael Palm, Andreas Horvath | Sound: Klaus Kellermann | Sound design, Mixing: Ulrich Grimm | Production manager: Louis Oellerer | Producer: Ulrich Seidl | Service Production USA & Canada: Pinball Films, Joan Grossman | Service Production Russia: Andrey Shapran, Olga Erycheva
With support from the Austrian Film Institute, Vienna Film Fund, FISA – Film Industry Support Austria, Stadt Salzburg, Land Salzburg | in collaboration with ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen
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- Director's statement
The starting point for our film and our journey was the story of a Russian woman living in New York City, who one day set out to walk back to her homeland. It was only by accident that she was discovered by workmen in the Canadian boreal forest. Despite their warnings, she pursued her march alone toward the Bering Strait. Her name was Lillian Alling, the year was 1927. To this day she is still considered missing. Her determination fascinated me and the idea for LILLIAN has followed me for 15 years.
The deafening metropolis of New York, a rustling cornfield somewhere in the Midwest and a lonely beach on the Bering Strait... If you connect these three places with a line, you obtain Lillian's approximate route. On top of that, envision the abstract idea of this rout projected on the globe. I tried to keep this "satellite perspective" in mind, even while shooting the film.
If you imagine the situations you might get into while walking across North America, stories of course spring to mind. But the film is essentially the product of improvisation and chance. There was no script. From the outset it was planned that accidental encounters would be incorporated into the film's storyline and would determine its narrative.
- Andreas Horvath
"Horvath's filmic oeuvre, which until now has exclusively comprised documentaries (four years ago he released a wildly controversial, intimate portrait of the actor Helmut Berger), inhabits the margins of human experience, often touching on the extreme and the taboo. In Lillian, his fiction debut, he wisely draws on his documentary experience... Episodic, and with undisguised pleasure in pathos, Horvath stages his protagonist's journey, setting monumental panoramic landscapes to thunderous music; we see that Horvath is also a photographer (and his own cameraman)."
Profil, Stefan Grissemann
"This is a repeatedly broken gaze at the land. Andreas Horvath, a native of Salzburg in Austria, who as a documentarian has already shown that he has a lot of sympathy for sad myths - most recently in 2015 with "Helmut Berger, Actor" - has for his fiction film debut found similarly atmospheric and unusual images. So, for instance, the passage through the midwest, the economically parched heart of the USA, delivers the high point of the film, in terms of both landscape and emotion. Lillian meets a wonderful end, with the film allowing its paragon to preserve her secret."
Falter, Michael Omasta
"Singular and thrilling."
Kurier, Susanne Lintl
"A fascinating journey across the North American continent, a road movie on foot, in which its protagonist's condition is equally important as her encounters with nature and people... The film is also a story of survival. Lillian views people as far greater threats than nature, although a central chase through a cornfield, in which she barely escapes her pursuer and potential rapist, is devoid of the usual elements of suspense. It is a quiet, even contemplative story that Horvath tells - a journey as self-discovery, consciously contrasted with the frantic and unreflected hustle-and-bustle of the American Way of Life. Country radio stations often serve as the sole soundtrack, while rural leisure activities such as patriotic parades and auto demolition derbies provide the ethnological backdrop."
"A taciturn film, which only makes the images more striking: in following his protagonist, Horvath presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of North America found its least populated regions. Whereas the film's slowness and staidness might lead you to expect a long-winded road movie, it develops a significant power of attraction that quickly has us sharing in the protagonist's turmoil. That the film is based on a true story - because in the early 1920s there really was a woman named Lillian who set out to walk from New York to Russia - makes the film experience even more intense. At the same time, Horvath offers a nuanced picture of America far removed from clichés, inspiring us to study the "great nation" led by Trump. A very special film experience. "
Wiener Zeitung, Matthias Greuling
"Lillian, in a multi-layered perfomance by Patrycja Płanik, will as part of her journey wander through a kaleidoscope of America that portrays the many nuances of that country to reveal much more than gray scales and clichés. Horvath provides his viewers absolutely engrossing images... Lillian is a mixture of engrossing images and an intimate unveiling of a mysterious woman."
Die Furche, Matthias Greuling
Tiroler Tageszeitung, Peter Angerer
Neues Volksblatt, Mariella Moshammer
- Awards | Festivals
Youth Jury Award in the category "Best Feature Film", Gijón Film Festival, Spain 2019
Golden Star Award in the category "BEST FILM", Cinedays Festival of European Film, Skopje 2019
New Voices FIPRESCI Award for Best Debut, Minsk IFF Listapad, 2019
Victor Turov Memorial Award for Best Film, Minsk IFF Listapad, 2019
Best Debut Film in the category "Golden Anchor Competition", IFF Haifa, 2019
Special Mention at the 15th ZFF in competition - Focus Switzerland, Germany, Austria | Zurich Film Festival, 2019
Best Film Award from Young Jury of Montelimar International Film Festival, 2019
Seymour-Cassel-Award for best Female Performance Patrycja Płanik, International Filmfestival Oldenburg, 2019
Special Prize at ORENBURG, XII International Film Festival "East&West. Classics and Avant Garde", 2019
Best Director at ORENBURG, XII International Film Festival "East&West. Classics and Avant Garde", 2019
Blue Angel for best Female Performance Patrycja Płanik, Artfilmfest 2019
World premiere: 72. international Film Festival Cannes 2019 Sektion Directors' Fortnight
Artfilmfest 2019, Slovakia | Karlovy Vary International FF 2019 | PARIS, Forum des Images, Reprise de la Quinzaine des Réalisateurs 2019 | KOSICE, 27th Art Film Fest 2019 | CONTIS PLAGE, 24e Le Festival International de Contis | BRUSSELS, Flagey, Quinzaine des Réalisateurs 2019 | PYEONGCHANG, GANGNEUNG, 1st International Peace Film Festival 2019 | ORENBURG, XII International Film Festival "East&West. Classics and Avant Garde" 2019 | OLDENBURG, International Filmfestival Oldenburg 2019 | Cinematik Film Festival, Slovakia, 2019 | Message To Man International Film Festival, St. Petersburg, 2019 | Zebra Poetry Film Festival, Münster, 2019 | Minsk International Film Festival Listapad, 2019 | Cinedays Festival of European Film, Skopje 2019 | 57th Gijón Film Festival, Spain 2019
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© Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion
A theatrical documentary by Andreas Horvath