Interview: Hal Hartley on Ned Rifle and his 25 years as an indie stalwart

Hal Hartley was one of the most original voices to emerge out of the American indie boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a writer-director with a novelistic sensibility and a unique, anti-realist style. His new film, Ned Rifle, is his second follow-up (he doesn’t like to call it a sequel) to Henry Fool, his cult 1997 feature about a Queens garbageman who becomes a Nobel Prize-winning poet with the help of the mysterious title character. Now grown-up, Henry’s son, Ned (Liam Aiken), goes looking for his long-missing father (Thomas Jay Ryan), intending to avenge his mother, Fay (Parker Posey), who has been imprisoned for terrorism following the events of 2006’s Fay Grim.

We sat down with Hartley a few days after Ned Rifle’s world premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, almost exactly 25 years after his first feature, The Unbelievable Truth, had …

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