A Cinema of Otherness
On Subverting Mainstream Standards & Values
© 2013-2020 Antero Alli


"To Dream of Falling Upwards" (2011; 125 min. USA)

Mainstream (commercial) movies & many so-called "independent" films feature characters as role models for the audience to look up to, emulate and identify with.  This identification hypnosis induces a trance of self-forgetfulness so viewers may temporarily escape ourselves and live vicariously through an imaginary character somebody else created.  Sometimes we want or even need this kind of escape.  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.

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 over twenty years ago. Since then, I've replaced these populist trends 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 viewer attention back onto themselves, the movie in our heads, and the life we are actually 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 and how 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. Whenever my films toured the pacific coast, the post-screening Q&A sessions have always brought more critical objectivity to my craft than any film critic or film festival panel of judges (why I stopped submitting to festivals years ago). Attending my screenings also helps me tap into the collective pulse of what the viewers 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 tend to merit repeat viewings just to get the picture I'm sending and what I may have meant by it.  I work to reward those with patience and an inquiring mind with new ways of seeing. I wish to discover how cinema can act on us beyond the passive hypnosis of consumerist entertainment.  Making films remains an ongoing process of discovery for me and the actors I collaborate with.


 

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