thy kingdom come trailer

Terrence Malick is a singular director. Not just in his exploration of the metaphysical through surreal imagery and meditative voiceover, but in his filming style. Malik will often shoot hours of footage with no grand plan in mind, only “finding” the film in the edit bay. As a result, countless actors and plot lines end up on the cutting room floor, likely never to be seen by the public. But for the footage cut from his 2012 film To the Wonder, that won’t be the case.

Thy Kingdom Come will be the first spin-off of a Terrence Malick film, comprised of the cut footage surrounding Javier Bardem‘s character Father Quintana, a priest struggling with his faith. In the film, tiny glimpses of Father Quintana’s day-to-day life hearing the confessions of small-town residents in Oklahoma can be seen. But did you know that those scenes did not feature actors, but real-life Americans?

In 2010, photojournalist Eugene Richards was hired to shoot Father Quintana’s scenes in the town of Bartlesville, in northeastern Oklahoma. Richards and Bardem got to work interviewing residents of Bartlesville who sought spiritual counsel. Bardem donned the priestly garb to listen to the people while Richards rolled his camera. However, “The basic question of ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself’ grew into something else,” Richards told The New Yorker.

Over the course of several days, Richards and Bardem heard the stories of a convict at Osage County Jail, an emaciated woman battling cancer, a former Ku Klux Klan member, and a mother whose child accidentally drowned. Only tiny slivers of these interviews ultimately made it into To the Wonder, but Richards was so fascinated by the stories that he petitioned Malick to release the footage as a feature film.

Thy Kingdom Come Trailer

Thy Kingdom Come is a 43-minute film that brings together these heartwarming, tragic, bittersweet tales of middle America. It’s a fascinating and slightly unsettling obfuscation of reality and fiction — something that both Bardem and Richards are aware of. Richards told the New Yorker that although the interviewees got intensely personal, they all had been informed that this was for a work of fiction, and that Bardem was not a priest. But that didn’t matter.

“Most people knew him as the murderer in No Country for Old Men,” Richards said. “A couple people knew him as Penelope Cruz’s husband. Some didn’t know who he was at all. And absolutely no one cared, in the end, who he was, except that he was there to listen.”

Thy Kingdom Come will premiere at SXSW in March 2018.

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