ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: Alchemy of the Spirit (2022)

Director and writer Steve Balderson has created quite a story here. Aging artist Oliver (Xander Berkeley) wakes up next to his wife Evelyn (Sarah Clarke), ho has died in her sleep, and refuses tot live a life without her. He keeps her body in the bathtub, filled with ice, trying to keep her looking as she did in life. At the same time, her spirit continues speaking with him for just five days before passing to whatever comes after our world. Oh yes — he’s also been given the greatest art commission of his life by his agent Alex (Mink Stole, wow!) and must continue to create art while going through the greatest change of his life.

A film of magical realism that plays with time, sound, light and color to attempt to share an emotion and mental space that is unshareable, Alchemy of the Spirit was a rough watch — I mean this in a good way — as I try to navigate the loss of my father. Life is unlike it ever was and while the common and rote moments of it never stop, the joys of it seem muted somehow, the colors much more simplistic. I hope this can change soon and that I can take these moments of art and use them to grow and change. You’ll always miss someone. But can you honor them by creating in their missing space?

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.

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