Viewer Responses...
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This is a gem. I had the privilege of seeing it in advance of its opening.
Antero's signature filmic style has evolved into a mature compelling
mode of story telling that is at once haunting and beautiful.

Keith Berger
Los Angeles CA

I have watched your Alchemist movie. I think I must watch it again. Like all your movies, it is many-layered. This one is very beautiful visually. At first I thought the Phineas character was Van Gogh, both from the way he was dressed and the saturated colours. Then when he was in his hut, it was as if he was within a Vermeer painting, the paintings of light, with the reflected edges... very beautiful. It always takes a bit of time for your movies to sink in and sync up with the conscious mind, and this one is no exception. One of the messages I get is how we create a story, and then we live out of that story, which is like a dream. And then we have to wake up out of the dream. (In this case the story that Hope wrote is also her dream from which she must awaken). In reality Keith does not have enough "sulphur" in his system, and his dream counterpart throws sulphur onto the trees. All this to be absorbed and revealed.

Benita Sher
Cape Town, South Africa

The transcendental style in cinema has always been a favourite tradtion, from Oso to Paul Schrader, Jarmush and that now I'm delighted to discover in this great 2021 effort so relevant when personas and the aspirations which inspire them cease to have relevance, once the old masks that they are prove as useless as the fears of yesteryear, somehow exemplified here. Thanks to the amazing synergy in the work(s) of Sylvi and Antero Alli, this is as much a musical as a visual journey so do prepare acoustically for it, should you be tempted to follow where we went. Congratulations and thanks again, delightfully transporting, enchantingly rewarding!

Davide Lamagni
Rome, Italy

WOW! Everything about this is perfect. Completely mesmerising. Bravo! Bravo to you and Syvi for doing such a fantastic job! Watching "The Alchemy of Sulphur" was so engulfing, everything had so much meaning and the overall story was pure beauty. Toward the end when the healing circle is happening, I found myself standing in front of the screen, as to include myself in the circle. So many beautiful messages, the soundscape was so enveloping, the story, characters, was so familiar. 100 percent glued from beginning to end. Antero and Sylvi, this is a masterpiece!

Opal Bolsega
Oakland California

The film felt like a great meeting place. An inspiring, ignited reminder that rung numerous bells. I found the film to be rich with interacting shocks that hit all the right spots. Numerous times I found myself rewinding back to listen to lines said throughout all three viewings to better feel what it brought forth within.

The opening monologue Phineas spoke was great with his calm narration. It really set the tone nicely. The saunter free walking shot. I thought it captured the body in the clouds vibe. All the actors performances were awesome! Definitely seemed a right choice each one for their role. Sylvi’s singing voice never ceases to amaze me. The overall music throughout the film I thought was lovely & perfectly placed, down to a science. The cinematography was extremely impressive all throughout & the locations. I dug the many switching camera angles between Hope & Her Boyfriend in one specific scene.

Overall I was impressed with all the aspects of the film. Ben & Hopes co-dependent, tug’n’pull relationship dynamic I thought was captured very well. The cafe scene where Hope was with Callista. “The stories writing itself. I’m still figuring it out.” Hope’s projection onto Keith, specifically when he picked up the phone on the second call & he initially sounds like Phineas to Hopes ear. Thought that was cool. “The ravenous predator of the Dark woods”. That’s the part I laughed out loud on all my viewings. Struck a funny bone every time. Another nice scene was, The Morning Dove part when Phineas starts off singly badly. Very sweet innocent fun vibes there.The Castaneda jab of honesty I liked when Callista said, “those books are a sham.”

The Phineas alchemy potion scene with Helen seeing into Phineas’ world mixing compounds, a symbolic of a break up but also union/renewal… that scene was beautiful. That was a Peak Breathe Giving scene. In the ritual scene where Calliope says “You both are under the same spell,” was that an Animus ritual? Hopes orgasmic rapture in that Ritual scene; peaking emergence release. Powerfully Captured. The “I think I’m pregnant” at the end was good on both levels I saw. I took it as Helen symbolically pregnant, maybe both. I thought it was a good symbol of feeling pregnant with her renewed sense of self.

The Sulphur set free scene at the end was beautiful & poetic with Phineas throwing it in the air. The forest fires - Stopping his feeding so the old ways can die-rebirth, inwards & onwards. For me, in my life at this time, this film was like an inspiring kick in the ass that turned into a kiss. Each viewing it just got better to be honest. So I know it has definitely been added to a lifetime favourite. It’s just so rich with information. By the end, it’s just such a poetic capstone the beauty cannot be ignored.

Justin Vissers-Bean
Toronto Canada

"The Alchemy of Sulphur"
was quite an experience, and I emphasize that word, rather than something like, say, understanding. I'm not sure I understood the film at all, anymore than I 'understand' certain dreams that continue to resonate with me.
All that said, there were lots of elements that really drew me into your whirlpool of imagery.

The film also coincided with several preoccupations or ruminations I've been having lately, such as, "The Livingness of Trees" (the photography in the green sequences was very nourishing and inviting; i.e., I kept wanting to come back to that particularly life), the revelations found in bird songs, and, as with Hope and her stories, the way we writers enter our own stories, even as our stories enter us. 

I have to say that Sylvi's music is really extraordinary; such a many-layered strata of emotion, creational drive, yearning, and other elements too subtle to articulate. I've long been a fan of Lisa Gerrard and, before that Dead Can Dance, but I actually think I'd choose Sylvi's stylings, if I had to make that crazy choice. It feels like there's more spaciousness and emphatic mystery in Sylvi's work. 

So, I'm going to be musing on the film and seeing what else bubbles up. I was really grateful to have some time alone tonight with your film...with your visions there. The scene at the very end, with the sort of alchemical forest guy becomes the flame--that was quite amazing. The shaman lady (Cynthia Schwell) was also amazing; almost non-human in her 'otherness.' As the film moved towards its end, I found myself wondering if perhaps ALL the characters had, in a sense, come out of Hope's musings. BTW, I didn't really care for Hope (Helia Rasti) in the beginning; I found her a bit, I don't know--peevish? But as she matured through the film, I found her softening, and more transparent to the mystery through which she was moving.

Jacob Shefa
Palm Desert, California

Watched your film tonight. Breathtaking work. The pacing was just perfect. Brought to mind Hieros Gamos as orchestrated by the Great Mystery and how we humans think we know what we are doing, but have it all turned around, looking for perfect reflections of our own selves, where no true relating or alchemy can occur. Thank Goddess for sorceresses. I’m going to process it some more. Dream on it. Might be my favorite of yours. Thank you. Bravo!

Memorie Eden
Portland OR

I loved it. I could relate to quite a bit and was intrigued by the rest. It’s really beautifully done, great music as always, and your signature touch of humor at just the right moments. I really liked how Hope (Helia Rasti) seemed so strong but endearingly naive, contrasted with the clear eyed focused Keith and Callista and Calliope. My favorite parts were the ones with Hope, Callista, and Calliope - when they were in the forest and at the coffee shop. Callista and Calliope in the forest reminded me of helpful good cop and helpful bad cop, ha! The three of them together had great chemistry. I was captivated with Sylvi. She looks like an Egyptian god, beautiful and powerful. I also looooved the scene with Keith and Hope in the forest. He’s fascinating to watch move, and it looked like the most romantic non-sexual date ever! I also appreciated how Hope learned her lessons in such an unusual fashion. Let’s hope they stick.

Kassandra Lennox
Novato, California

I haven't seen all your films, and my response to this film would, naturally, reflect where I am at this time.  That said, I found this film slower in pace, an invitation to be led, drawn in.  Yet, I remained an observer.  The words, innocent sorcery, came to mind with Hope's venture into her novella.  What is calling her?  What is she seeking?  Is it the desire to merge with a more golden, divine dream or memory?  Is that desire regressive?

Is this something Calliope and Callista see when they recognize her as one who walks in both worlds yet is loosing power by a self depleting energetic loop?  And, after the ceremony with Calliope, (which reminds me some of the Seidr practice I was involved with for a Jupiter cycle) Hope learns that she is pregnant, clearly a call away from the regressive to the progressive, here, one way road of evolution.

Personally, the draw to the divine realm, which I often experience/longing as a merging with nature and a longing for the black Void, may also be regressive.  What wants to be born in me?  Here's where your connection to Creation comes in.  I'm still pondering, Antero.  I have more questions than answers.  Something's calling. I liked this film, it's penetrating.  I'll rewatch down the road and see what movement has  taken place.  Thank you for making it and for sharing it generously.

Ardis Thomas, California

A magical film showing how the immature artistic temperament creates crises and feels that it cannot create quality work when not in a heightened emotional or psychological state and that, therefore, self sabotage is a common way to address self doubt and to channel the creative process.

In this movie, ego death and the surrender of fear, and the addiction to suffering as essential to art, freezes the narrator and symbolizes the discovery of her self and for not being a poison to herself. Her relationships and her writing fuel inspiration that can be called upon with a healthy self discipline and self-control with intellect involved. Recovery from self sabotage and emotional drama requiring distress in able to surpass mediocrity is a true phenomena for the artistic temperament and ultimately must be overcome to be productive and to create joyously even when experiencing positive emotions in one’s life. Suffering for one’s art is not required and it’s not healthy for the psyche. Ego death may be traumatic, but it open sus to be empty so the Muse always has more room to speak and be called upon without the ego getting in the way.

Visually meaningful, The Alchemy of Sulphur is truly stunning. The supersaturated hues of the dreamworld contrast against the monochromatic of the writers real world narrative. The dualism is apparent in so many levels and is incredibly symbolist and a deeply meaningful film. The pacing is slow like a pavane. It is very intense, it is very deep, and it can be very personal and intimate spiritually, sometimes uncomfortable to the self or an artist to watch. A beautiful art film about art imitating life.

The actress who played Calliope, Cynthia Schwell, was incredibly enthralling, ethereal and intimidating in a very good way and she had incredible weight and prescence as per fit her role as priestess, healer, and guide. The mime and dance, score, soundtrack were all enchanting and incredibly visceral and evocative. At times, it reminded me of Lindsay Kemp. The alchemical scenes were well done and the story of Phineas and Helen was charming. Excellent casting and good performances. So truly enjoyable. It was a beautiful experience and an affirmation of life and creativity and that art may imitate life with joy.

Best wishes and with gratitude,
Pixie Bruner; Atlanta, Georgia

The bearded arborist healer, Phineas (Douglas Allen) teaches us how the root system of forests act as one being underground in a dark symphony of roots, mimicking the dark symphony of life. He understands mythological language and uses it to unlock the doors of perception revealing the underlying structures of his reality. The crux of the film involves perceiving the alchemical nature of sulfur — as a divine spark. Phineas is the key to understanding this film. Inscrutable and virile, his eyes shine bright with the self knowledge required of a healer.

This film begs the contemplation of the question — the ultimate quest — What are you living for? Please watch this film again as it’s one of those films that unfolds with more information every time you watch it. May peace and tranquility find a home in your heart, mind and soul. Thank you Antero for this beautiful tale and the growing body of work that you have gifted to the world. The cast does a fantastic job, they all worked very, very hard to make this a living breathing work of art. Special thanks to Sylvi, Antero’s partner in crime for lending her amazing angelic singing voice, divine icing on a cake made out of sulfur and love.

Michael Keenan Byrne, Ventura California
excerpted from Overtone Wizard (blog)

This is not a movie for those who like action. There is a lot of introspective commentary and slow stills, sometimes with not much appearing to happen, though the expertly arty shooting and beautiful music score together create something quite rarified and sublime. This is about a romance and the need to become the right kind of person in order to find lasting union with another. Some might possibly find the mystical message beyond this theme ever so slightly heavy-handed, but beyond that, this movie creates an immersive experience for those who are looking for something a little different from 'fast-food' visual entertainment.

Lynda Stevens,
Budapest, Hungary

more responses to come...

Helia Rasti as "Helen" and Douglas Allen as "Phineas"