Film critics often describe director Kelly Reichardt’s work as “minimalist” and “realist.” She likes to tell stories of regular Americans – mostly working class people in rural settings – with nominal dialogue, little action and beautiful landscapes. Her endings are usually ambiguous, leaving the audience to contemplate the conclusions.

The Museum of the Moving Image will present Northwest Passages: The Films of Kelly Reichardt this weekend, Saturday, Feb. 29, and Sunday, March 1.

The seven-event program coincides with the release of her most recent film, “First Cow,” which just premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Reichardt will be on hand to discuss this piece and her most popular movie, “Meek’s Cutoff,” on Sunday.

General admission is $15 per screening or $40 for an all-series pass. Seniors, students and children (ages three to 17) qualify for discounts.

Here’s the lineup with brief descriptions.

  • “River of Grass” on Feb. 29 at 1 p.m. A 30-year-old woman takes off with a drifter, leaving her children and husband. The new pair quickly becomes a pathetic Bonnie-and-Clyde team that stumbles and fumbles through South Florida.
  • “Old Joy” on Feb. 29 at 3 p.m. Two old friends take a vacation to a rural, mountainous part of the American Northwest. As time passes, they realize that they don’t have much in common anymore.
  • “Wendy and Lucy” on Feb. 29 at 4:45 p.m. Michelle Williams plays a young woman who embarks on a road trip to Alaska with her dog. The goal is get a job in a cannery, but the car breaks down in Oregon, leaving her hopeless.
  • “Night Moves” on Feb. 29 at 7 p.m. Three young, radical environmentalists – a traumatized former Marine, a radicalized rich girl, and a self-converted militant — blow up a hydroelectric dam. The action leads to doubts, paranoia and regrets.
  • “Certain Women” on March 1 at 2 p.m. This triptyc follows three very different women who encounter male-induced roadblocks. A lawyer has to deal with office sexism and a hostage situation. A wife/mother fights to build her dream house. A law student enters into an awkward relationship with a lonely ranch hand.
  • “Meek’s Cutoff” on March 1 at 4 p.m. Reichardt is on hand to discuss this 2010 film which is loosely based on settlers moving west on the Oregon Trail in the early 1800s. After getting lost in the Cascade Mountains, three families kidnap a stoic, poker-faced indigenous man.
  • A preview of “First Cow” on March 1 at 7 p.m. Reichardt is in person to discuss this 2019 film that also takes place in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800s. A Caucasian loner joins a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory. He befriends a Chinese immigrant, and they build a successful business that’s dependent on a wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow. The event begins with Peter Hutton’s 1991 “In Titan’s Goblet,” a 10-minute silent homage to Thomas Cole of the Hudson River School of Painting.

Born in 1964, Reichardt grew up with two police officer parents in southern Florida. As a child, she became interested in photography while using her father’s camera, the same one that he used at crime scenes. She graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before embarking on a movie career with “River of Grass,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994.

In addition to making movies and teaching, she’s been an S. William Senfeld Artist-in-Residence at Bard College and a fellow with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria’s Kaufman Arts District.

Images: Museum of the Moving Image


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Museum of the Moving Image closes through March 29
Museum of the Moving Image closes through March 29

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