The new documentary from underground filmmaker Antero Alli seeks to bridge the spatial void between the state of dreams and the state of being awake. To achieve his goal, Alli recruited seven individuals with training in the paratheatrical medium to recreate the movements recalled from their respective dreams. As the experiment progresses, the individual members of this endeavor slowly move from the unique expressions of their respective nocturnal dreams to an interconnecting ritual where the protocol of sleep-induced dreams are blended into a wider dream-fueled community.
As with Alli’s previous documentaries “Archaic Community” (which brought together strangers in exercises which trace the genesis of ritualistic behaviors) and “Crux” (which deconstructs rituals relating to the image of the Crucifixion), this new film challenges the viewer to take a seemingly benign concept – in this case, the act of dreaming – and dissect its intellectual and emotional aspects until it reaches a state of raw physicality. Alli carefully labels these films as being experimental documentaries, which is helpful because some viewers may be baffled by the idiosyncratic manner in which Alli uses the non-fiction film medium to explore his subject matter.
Whether Alli achieves his goals is strictly subjective – an argument could be made that dreams are inherently intellectual, in which the physical movements are dictated by a surreal reinvention of reality that cannot be duplicated among the wide-awake. Nonetheless, the production deserves admiration for its bold premise and the filmmaker’s willingness to pursue his distinctive ideas. Even better, the film looks great (kudos to Alli as a videographer) and is laced with a haunting score by the director’s reel-life and real-life collaborator, Syli Alli (who appears briefly as an appropriately regal image in a full-color dream).