Ragtag Cinema: Homebrewed/Sylvio

So far behind on these things...this happened in June! But these films I programmed back then are starting to trickle out into the world now so what better time to revisit the Homebrewed line up!

Basically Director Albert Birney is Sylvio, which was quickly revealed as he toured the audience around his apartment via Skype following a screening of his film at Ragtag Cinema on June 14th. We saw his plants, the artwork on his walls, we even got to meet the beloved Herbert Herpels (Sylvio's avatar/puppet the ape creates for his own short films- yes, Sylivio too is an indie film director). We met 1 of 3 Herberts actually, the original hailing from behind a thrift store counter display, which, as Birney pointed out, is where the fancy stuff always go to gather dust. Some distant relative of Birney's apparently sat in the audience too- a step relative of an actor in the film also somehow related to Birney?! Basically the screening felt like we were in his Baltimore apartment catching up on lost time.

I told him that when I first read a review of his film Sylvio the reviewer couldn't tell if they were being trolled the entire time while watching it; the writer conditioned to heightened, undecipherable levels of irony in so much contemporary culture. But my reaction was the exact opposite. A sincerity cooed on screen in a way that I think many a cynical film critic is unable to recognize in this world of sneers and long distant likes. Sylvio is a large hearted story of an artist struggling against the realities of the world, trying to make sense of his non-sensical surroundings- like cubicles and viral videos and debt collectors. It just happens that this artist is an ape. An ape that remains relatively mute throughout, harkening back to the wonders of silent film acting.

In talking with Birney one realizes that his film is most definitely sincere, crafting a childlike wonder and whimsy leaning towards a hopeful honesty. Other sincere films like Follow That Bird and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure acted as major inspirations, also leading to talk of a Sylvio sequel in which Sylvio embarks on a quest/road trip to find a missing Herbert Herpels! An ape/human/artist/metaphor for a simpler life/silent film actor, I feel like Sylvio becomes what you need him to be for you, a sweet, styled look at a creative heart beating in the chaotic ways of modern life. Sylvio will have a one week screening at Nitehawk Cinema (Brooklyn, NY) starting on Oct 12th 2017.



Donna K. lives in the Midwest and on the internet. Mostly she writes about her interest in the offline world.