Archive of films Fay Grim / Fay Grim

USA / Germany / France
2006, 119 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2007

Eccentric acting, rapid editing, stop tricks, low-angle shots of characters with tilted backdrops, these are techniques which well-known independent filmmaker Hal Hartley uses for his dramatic, mystifying and slightly parodic espionage story populated by beautiful women, CIA agents, phoney bell-hops and mysterious Arabs.


This story about the attractive Fay, mother of a 14-year-old boy and wife of Henry, who hasn’t been seen for seven years, loosely follows on from the film Henry Fool (screened in Karlovy Vary in 1998). Back then, Fay was the bored sister of Simon who has been in prison for a number of years for helping Henry escape the law. It’s not entirely clear what Henry has on his conscience, perhaps nothing, or perhaps he’s mixed up in far-flung international espionage and has compromising information on assorted government activities worldwide. Contacted by the CIA, Fay is entrusted with the task of getting hold of her husband’s encoded diaries. Feverishly scanning New York, Paris and Istanbul, she becomes involved in bizarre and dangerous situations with equally bizarre people who appear more like intangible beings from a fantastic dream. The film is the point of intersection of an ingenious and ostentatious approach to genre, in particular, the political thriller format, with its eerie Lynchesque atmosphere and existential ruminations on the precariousness of all life’s certainties.

About the director

Hal Hartley (b. 1959, New York City), one of the important “American independents”, graduated from film school in 1984 and, after engaging in various activities, began writing and directing his own films. Karlovy Vary audiences were gradually introduced to practically all his work, typical for its original blend of fragments of reality and deliberately sharp stylisation. His uprooted heroes find themselves in unexpected situations which prompt them to react in equally unexpected ways, all rendered with ironic detachment or hypnotic urgency. The imaginative world of Hartley’s films reflects the traumas of contemporary life, our anxieties and unfulfilled desires. Select filmography: The Unbelievable Truth (1989), Trust (1990), Simple Men (1992), Amateur (1994), Flirt (1995), The Book of Life (1998).


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About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Horizons
Director: Hal Hartley
Screenplay: Hal Hartley
Dir. of Photography: Sarah Cawley Cabiya
Music: Hal Hartley
Editor: Kyle Gilman
Producer: Hal Hartley, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente, Michael S. Ryan, Martin Hagemann
Production: HDNet Films International
Cast: Parker Posey, Jeff Goldblum, James Urbaniak, Saffron Burrows, Liam Aiken, Thomas Jay Ryan
Contact: HDNet Films International


Hal Hartley

Film Director


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