by Antero Alli
I don't call myself an artist. Best to let others, the world, decide what to call you. I see myself more as a kind of interruptor. I like interrupting assumptions, expectations, and beliefs that inhibit the spirit of discovery. I want to find new ways of seeing and experiencing intimacy with the fertile void, source of all creation, and its hilarious offspring, the singing womb of the Poetic Imagination.
My media-making journey began with tragedy. With the sudden death of my beautiful young daughter Zoe in September of 1992, the worst thing that could ever happen to me, happened to me. Great losses sometimes come with great gifts and, this massive loss gifted me with vision. The eyes of my eyes opened. I saw "death" as an illusion, an intellectual symbol for fear, social control, and oppression. I saw through the lies of society and glimpsed the eternal cycles of Life. People come and go but Life itself continues. I saw how we are all, at essence, Love; I've seen true Love trump Death.
Waves of grief and epiphany guided the scripting and production of my first feature, THE ORACLE (1993), about a cynical patriarch whose granddaughter, Ariadne, appears in his dreams as a guide on his final night on earth. As my own cynicism withered I became inspired by my friend Rob Brezsny's ideas of the interface between dreamtime and daytime realities. Together, we wrote and produced THE DRIVETIME (1995), about a federal time-traveling librarian from the year 2023 returning to 1999 via the dreams of a Seattle video activist shooting police riots. Five years later, I explored conflicting religious beliefs in TRAGOS (2000), a cyber-noir witch hunt tale about a fundamentalist Christian attorney who aims to prosecute the leader of an urban tribe of techno-pagans convinced they are a 'satanic suicide cult.'
The racial profiling immediately following the 9/11 attacks outraged the making of HYSTERIA (2002; written with Jakob Bokulich), about a Croatian Catholic soldier who drinks datura tea and mistakes a powerful hallucination for a visitation from the Holy Virgin Mary. On my fiftieth birthday, I returned to my Finnish roots in UNDER A SHIPWRECKED MOON (2003), where a Finnish-American family visits their hospitalized, comatose patriarch whose true love beckons him to the great beyond in his dreams. Women I have known who stood at the crossroads between sacrificing their lives to Art or Motherhood inspired the making of THE GREATER CIRCULATION (2005), a poetic docu-fiction set in present-time Berkeley and in Paris, 1908 -- where poet Rainer Maria Rilke transforms his grief over the sudden death of his friend, artist Paula Modersohn-Becker, into his epic prose lament, "Requiem for a Friend".
The atrocious politics of fear and terrorism triggered the making of my anxious X-mas comedy, THE MIND IS A LIAR AND A WHORE (2007), about a quirky Berkeley household climbing the slippery slopes between actual and perceived threats during an alleged bio-terrorist attack in their city. I returned to my earliest theatrical influence, Antonin Artaud, to make THE INVISIBLE FOREST (2008) about an insomniac theatre director (whom I portray) conducting a group paratheatrical experiment in a forest when a series of disturbing dreams forces him to question his sanity. The suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of my friend and mentor, Christopher S. Hyatt, compelled the creation of TO DREAM OF FALLING UPWARDS (2011), a zany occult thriller about an urban sex magickian who asks a Castaneda-style desert witch to solve a vexing esoteric problem.
I've always wanted to make a subversive love story which led to FLAMINGOS (2012), my outlaw romance noir about twin sisters in love with a bank-robbing hypnotist junkie obsessed with apocalyptic visions; love can be blind but it's all we got. My feminist fable THE BOOK OF JANE (2013) developed from my fascination with three generations of feminist women and their overlapping worlds in the shadow culture of the nomadic homeless, academia, and pre-Hellenic goddess worship. After recovering from a personal health crisis, I scripted OUT OF THE WOODS, about a young man who survives a near-death experience with amnesia and a disturbing psychic talent. (projected release: Summer 2015).
Between productions and film tours I am in recovery mode doing next to nothing, watching films by my favorite filmmakers and/or immersing myself in the asocial group ritual dynamics of paratheatre, a process that often inspires the seed visions for my films. Paratheatre has been my "yoga" since 1977; it's how I stay sane in an insane world. Between 1992 and 2012, four feature-length videos were produced documenting the various facets of this original paratheatrical medium: ARCHAIC COMMUNITY (1992), CRUX (1999), ORPHANS OF DELIRIUM (2004) and DREAMBODY/EARTHBODY (2012). In 2003, my workbook "Towards an Archeology of the Soul" (Vertical Pool) was published documenting and outlining the previous twenty-five years of paratheatrical research.
Between 1991 and 2001, I crafted about a dozen short works including LILY IN LIMBO (1996; with Sylvi Alli), ROADKILL, (2001) and more abstract "videopoems" using text by Rilke, Neruda, H.D., Rimbaud, Plath, Tzara, & others. With the exception of my short works, most of what I have done has been highly collaborative and would never have happened without the talent, skill and energy of many others. I am especially grateful for the personal and artistic support of my wife, the multi-talented singer/composer/actress, Sylvi Alli (since 1990) and my skillful film editor, Chris Odell (since 2000).
So far, all my movies have been self-funded and/or co-produced with my peers. I don't see the point in applying and waiting for corporate grants or studio funding when I can start work right away. Not including the time it takes to raise funds, each movie typically takes six to twelve months from concept to final cut. After ten years of submitting my work to film festivals with zero success, I have chosen the more gratifying option of touring my movies at west coast arthouses and universities. These public screenings gain promotional support by critical reviews at filmthreat.com, sittingnow.co.uk and mindjack.com. My movies are also available on dvd at this webpage and can be booked by event producers here.
Of course, I would like my work to achieve more exposure. Until then, I continue making the movies I want to make and setting up screenings in receptive venues. Persistence has its own pay off. What is success to me? Zero compromise. What is the purpose of money? To fund my next project. What is the true nature of fame? Grease for the publicity machines. Love? What makes life worth living. Truth? Everything beyond advertising. And God? Everything beyond that.
truly, ANTERO ALLI
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