(1996-2001; 26 min. USA)

""Lily in Limbo" presents a one-woman tour-de-force by Sylvi Alli as an artist whose self-imposed isolation corrupts her senses into a state of bitterness and delusion. In her solitude, she loses herself in a series of bizarre dreams thick with haunting images and disturbing sounds (Sylvi created the film's quirky score), while the unlikely delivery of a curious birthday gift disrupts her comfortable world. A fascinating essay of a lost soul who is uncertain whether rescue is something she really wants." -- PHIL HALL for



"A (small) epic poem about a woman’s spiritual quest, the film is a collaboration between Sylvi and Antero Alli. Sylvi performs in the film as well, and it also features her music on the soundtrack. The film is set to excerpts from H.D.’s visionary poem “Trilogy.” A woman wavers back and forth between her waking life and a complex dream she is trying to recall. The dream footage, shot mostly on grainy, pulsating film, contrasts nicely with the crisp black and white video imagery of her waking life, alone in her apartment. In the haunting dream images, she wanders through an abandoned building, down a lone pier, and gazes into a mirror at an altar.

The images poetically address her quest to break out of her overly brittle, confining concept of who she is. It is her birthday, and gorgeous images of water symbolize her rebirth. (She’s a Pisces.) An uncanny event near the film’s end connects her waking life to her dream. The film ends with a stunning, poetic sequence, which depicts something I would have thought impossible to capture on film: the sensation when one lets go of preconceptions, and one is flooded with a feeling of spiritual enlightenment. This is depicted, quite accurately, through the images of flowers opening, superimposed over images of a lava flow, in which the elements of earth, fire, air and water are all intermingled."

-- from the review by DAVID FINKELSTEIN for (4 stars; 7/13/2010)



Featuring SYLVI ALLI as "Lily". Photographed & directed by
ANTERO ALLI. Story and editing by SYLVI and ANTERO ALLI.
Text by HILDA DOOLITTLE (H.D.) from "Trilogy". Additional
text by SYLVI and ANTERO ALLI. Soundtrack by SYLVI ALLI.
Produced by VERTICAL POOL (1996-2001; 26 minutes, USA)


Soon after we became mates in 1995, Sylvi underwent a profound spiritual crisis where any sense of identity seemed to evaporate. I saw and felt what was happening and asked her if she wanted to make a film together that might mirror her experience somehow and maybe even alleviate or transform her existential angst. She agreed. After some coaxing, she also reluctantly volunteered to play the central (and only) role in the film, which became her very first appearance as a film actress.

There was no script or screenplay. I didn't feel we needed one since Sylvi was already living the story, the vision, of a soul torn between worlds in a kind of bardo limbo realm, neither awake nor dreaming. We were both drawn to the refined symbolist poetry of Hilda Doolittle (aka HD), from her “Trilogy”, as a floating commentary throughout Lily's internal landscape. Technically, we were limited by the consumer Hi-8 camcorders of 1996 which we chose to augment with Super-8 film. Our movie was also edited manually (no computer!) on three Panasonic SVHS edit decks and an analog A/V mixer with audio cassette decks and a couple of small Sony TV monitors.

With the exception of Chopin’s Nocturne in B-flat (played by Sylvi), Sylvi also composed, played and recorded the soundtrack. The film was made at Potholes wilderness region of central WA state, inside the Seattle house where we lived at the time, in the (former) OK Hotel (downtown Seattle) and in the abandoned military bunkers at Fort Worden near Port Townsend WA. We came to final cut five years later in 2001 in Berkeley CA where we remained until 2015.

- Antero
May 25, 2020, Portland OR


More experimental shorts by Antero

Antero Alli feature films online

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