Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, June 7:
IDFA, London, Melbourne, Chicago, Doclisboa, Sao Paulo, Bergen, Antenna Doc, Dokufest, Haifa, Zurich, Athens, RiverRun
A look back at an unusual social experiment from 1973.
In 1973, Mexican anthropologist Santiago Genovés launched a study that made international headlines, bringing together 11 diverse strangers to live in cramped quarters on a raft called the Acali on a voyage from the Canary Islands to Mexico over 100 days. The so-called Acali Experiment, though sounding like a prototypical REAL WORLD or BIG BROTHER reality television show, was intended as a scientific study to observe how individuals dealt with conflict, with Genovés on hand to push buttons, encourage sexual liaisons, and instigate quarrels. Coming at a time of women’s liberation and free love, the press was quick to dub the vessel “the sex raft,” but the reality, as revealed here through participants’ present-day recollections, archival footage, and Genovés’ journals, reveal a different story. The scientist’s approach took on dictatorial undertones, leading some participants to still harbor resentment for how he treated them. Lindeen skillfully creates a dialogue between the scientist, who died in 2013, and his surviving subjects, as they call into question Genovés’ “official” version of the proceedings while walking around a scale-model replica of their three-month home at sea. The result is a fascinating interrogation of his social experiment, presented in a compelling and creative manner.