Eighty-two-year-old Peter Anton has spent decades obsessively chronicling his life story in a massive, illustrated autobiography titled Almost There, and nothing — not poverty, isolation, or crippling disabilities — will stop him from seeing it published. Anton’s work, which is best described as outsider art, was made in the home where he’s been living since he was a child. With his immediate family long dead, the home has fallen into squalor and his health is failing.
Almost There tells the story of the controversial art exhibit the filmmakers collaborated on with this charismatic yet curmudgeonly character. The media spotlight turns on Anton, and his lifestyle as a “hoarder” causes the housing department to take notice and condemn his home. The filmmakers follow Anton’s tumultuous transition out of his childhood dwelling and into a senior community: a triumph of perseverance and the happiest place he’s ever been. Along the way, they meet those like themselves who are compelled to help this elderly artist, while asking: What responsibilities do we have to others in need, and where should boundaries be drawn?
Through a mix of vérité scenes and soul-searching interviews with leading experts and enthusiasts in the outsider art field, Almost There provides context for larger themes as well, such as: How does society measure the quality of art, especially by untrained artists? What makes an artist an outsider and how is that classification impacted by one’s economic position and living conditions? And finally, what will our legacies be, and when, if ever, are we forgiven for the mistakes of our past?
- Dan RybickyProducer/Director
- Aaron WickendenProducer/Director