The story of the unexpected consequences of newfound attention on an undiscovered outsider artist.
After filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden meet Peter Anton drawing portraits at Chicago’s Pierogifest, they start to befriend the octogenarian artist, and learn that he has created a series of elaborate autobiographical collage diaries in which he has documented every year of his life. Fascinated by his work, they become wrapped up in his life, especially when they discover that his lifelong home has fallen into squalor. When the filmmakers help him mount a gallery exhibition of his outsider art for the first time, this leads to unanticipated revelations about his past, a radical change in his living situation, and questions about the limits of altruism.
With two weeks left in their Kickstarter campaign for post funding, Rybicky and Wickenden have raised more than half of their $20,000 goal. To stay updated on the project and join their email list, check out the doc’s website.
I’m drawn to character portraits, and Anton is most decidedly a compelling subject with a rich, complex, and even troubling background that allows the filmmakers to transcend the conventions of a simple, celebratory artist profile. My only hesitation is the extent to which Rybicky and Wickenden will ultimately make themselves (and the making of their film) part of their film’s story. While their personal connection with Anton brings up provocative questions around filmmaker/subject relationships, and they play instrumental roles in the developments chronicled in Anton’s life – it’s a fine line to walk between illuminating the latter and indulging in a too-insular work of meta-filmmaking. That said, they are producing the film through the acclaimed Kartemquin Films, responsible for such films as HOOP DREAMS, THE INTERRUPTERS, and LIFE ITSELF, so I’m hopeful they’ll find the right storytelling balance here.
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