RIFF Movies Archive

Der Lindenbaum

United States, 2018, Digital - Color - 16

Arkesh Ajay

Kai Lennox, Gene Jones, Bradley Gregg.

Arkesh Ajay

David Kirkeby

Thanos Papastergiou

Stephen Spies

Brian Peyton

Linda Christina Riedmann, Stephen Jangro


An Opera singer is depressed. His father is trying to commit suicide. Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.

Arkesh Ajay is an Indian writer-director, and a graduate of the UCLA MFA Production/Directing program. He recently directed one part of the four-part anthology feature Mississippi Requiem, an adaptation of William Faulkner stories set in 1930s-Mississippi with James Franco, Topher Grace, and Alicia Witt in lead roles.Arkesh also works as a freelance editor. His latest project, a feature-length documentary, Waterschool, for Swarovski and UCLA, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2018, and then was screened at the World Economic Forum at Davos. The film is also screening at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.He’s currently working with the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-awarded filmmaker Lucy Walker on her next documentary short.He’s a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for his screenplay “The Kitchen Chemist’s War”. He has been awarded the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Award, Motion Pictures Association of America Award, and the Terina Spyropoulou Memorial Award.He also holds an MBA from the University of Delhi, and has worked in the Consumer Goods business for three years before making a switch to follow his passion for filmmaking.** Director's Statement about the film: Der Lindenbaum is about an existential question: in the face of a certain death, what in life is worth doing? About a decade ago I was diagnosed with a cancer. At the same time my grandmother, suffering from undiagnosed dementia, passed away. Those few months that were confusing, painful, and somehow still humorous, and inspiring, made me aware of two things about life: the only constant is that it ends, and that our futile obsession with never letting it go is quite funny. The film was written with those two principal themes in mind.Death is a liberating reminder of an indifferent universe. Because we are so small and inconsequential, we are absolutely free. The only logical thing to do is to pursue joy, to sing. We find our protagonist, Marve, rejecting a life that’s expected of him to turn to his passion, Opera, incidentally the one art form where people literally sing as they die.Another experience I’ve tried to communicate through the film is something I felt with my own family during my and my grandmother’s simultaneous diseases – that without relationships, there is loneliness. In my film, the father and son, through the accidents of their past, have alienated themselves from the other. The film brings them to a resolution where they end this isolation.




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