The Gene Siskel Film Center will be hosting the Chicago premiere of the documentary “Almost There” by local co-directors Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden. Peter Anton, the film’s focus, will join Dan and Aaron at the screening on January 10th at 7:45 pm and Sunday, January 11 at 3 pm. Tickets can be found at Gene Siskel Film Center Tickets for ALMOST THERE
“Almost There” poignantly tells a tale of community, responsibility, aging, and art. As Peter Anton is “discovered” at a local Indiana Pierogifest by Chicago filmmakers, Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden. The filmmakers see something in this aging fellow that intrigue them to delve further into his life only to see many more layers that aren’t quite as brilliantly colorful as the paints he uses to see the world and express his visions.
Peter Anton is much like many older Americans attempting to care for themselves with no help from family. But Peter has a want to tell his story, his love of art and creating a lasting way to be remembered. Dan and Aaron go to Peter’s home to discover conditions not fit for human habitation. Mold, broken pipes, no heat, dirt, clutter, and filth surround Peter and his “art studio.” The good heart of these two men couldn’t leave Peter without trying to better his living conditions. The film turns into less of a documentary about a lost artist and more into the deplorable living conditinos of this man and how society can help him, but then comes full circle back to the artist at hand.
The filmmakers begin to know Peter better as they discover more of his work and get to know him as a person. Interviewing neighbors and others that knew him decades ago reveals interesting if not angering information. This man is so much more than just an old man who loves art. He has a colorful and sordid background which is addressed with deft skill and emotion from all involved in this film.
“Almost There” paints a vividly clear picture of the human desire to live on long after we are gone, but more importantly, it is a snap shot of our basic instinct to help each other—with limitations. The film takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride from sadness to disgust, from empathy to outrage and everything in between. The unique perspective this film uses allows you to see this man’s life and all involved from every angle.
Peter Anton’s story is an unusual story in that he is an artist looking for a way to live on and to live now with himself and forgive himself. Unfortunately, in many ways, Peters story is not unusual in that we have a problem in our society with being able to care for our elders in a way that is humane and dignified as well as affordable. There are many people out there that do not have the advocates such as Dan and Aaron to help sort out bills, payments, and accomplishing basic daily living activities.
“Almost There” is an emotional story about a colorful artist, finding his way in life and redemption. It’s not only Peter Anton’s story, it’s a story of community and a sense of responsibility. It’s a story of hope and life itself. “Almost There” will remind us all that we are all “almost there.”