A Cinema of Otherness
On Subverting Mainstream Standards & Values
© 2013 Antero Alli
"The Book of Jane" (2013; 117 min. USA)
Mainstream (commercial) movies & most independent films feature characters as role models for the audience to look up to and identify with. This identification hypnosis induces a trance of self-forgetfulness so we may temporarily escape ourselves and live vicariously through an imaginary character somebody else created. Sometimes we want or even need this kind of escape until we're ready to break that trance and wake up to ourselves. One regretful aspect of commercial cinema is this boneheaded moral tendency to infuse plots and characters with ideals to live by, as if we are not intelligent enough to find our own way. These mainstream industry values represent a misguided use of the power of cinema to coddle the audience, rather than awaken us to the lives we are actually living - not the life we think we should be living, if only this, that, or the other were different.
I understand why I am bored with most Hollywood movies, an annoyance that has pushed me to reinvent cinema through the underground features I started making twenty years ago with a camcorder. Since then, I've replaced these populist trends with values I can live with and live for that honor viewer intelligence, integrity, and autonomy. I don't want to paint any perfect world or vision for others to live by; I find the innate messiness of real life infinitely more interesting. The characters in my films are flawed enough to inhibit the reflex to mistake them for role models. I aim to make films that bounce audience attention back onto themselves, the movie in your heads, and the life you are living. I want to amplify viewer experience of their own energy -- so you walk away from my films feeling more of yourself than before. Though I don't always succeed, this remains a guiding principle in what I create.
I am more interested in the quality of attention viewers bring to my screenings than any sheer volume of seats filled and ducats acquired. When my films tour the pacific coast , the post-screening Q&A sessions bring more critical objectivity to my craft than any film critic or film festival panel of judges (and why I stopped submitting to festivals ten years ago). Attending my screenings also helps me tap into the collective pulse of what people expect, what they see and feel.
My films are not for everybody and I don't expect them to be. Since all my stories are developed with parallel narrative and symbolic levels, my films also tend to require repeat viewings just to get the picture I'm sending and what may have been meant by it. I work to reward those with patience and an inquiring mind with new ways of seeing and a discovery of how cinema can act on us beyond the passive hypnosis of consumerist entertainment. Making films remains an ongoing process of discovery for myself and the actors I collaborate with. I don't see stopping anytime soon and will probably continue for as long as the Muses will have me.
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