In the Realms of the Unreal
Academy Award®-Winning Filmmaker Jessica Yu and Producer Susan West Explore the Parallel Lives of Outsider Artist Henry Darger
Sue West 323/854-2823 or 818/260-4402 firstname.lastname@example.org Randall Cole 415/356-8383, ext. 254 randall<em>email@example.com Cara White 843/881-1480 firstname.lastname@example.org Wilson Ling 415/356-8383, ext. 231 wilson</em>email@example.com
Sue West, 323.854.2823 (cell) Randall Cole, 415.425.3050 (cell) Cara White, 843.224.1442 (cell) Wilson Ling, 415.385-5239 (cell) Jeremy Walker and Associates/ITVS Press Office, 435.649.2900, room 113
(San Francisco, CA) – By day, janitor Henry Darger scrubbed floors, attended mass, rummaged through garbage cans and went through life virtually unnoticed. By night, he ruled a world in which the forces of innocence and good fought a bloody battle against the forces of treachery and evil. And, he created an artistic legacy that would earn him the notice he so eluded during his life.
After Darger died quietly in a Catholic poor house in 1973, the landlords of the residence he occupied for over 40 years uncovered hundreds of brilliant and disturbingly beautiful paintings. They also found the other half of Darger's life's work: the more than 15,000-page novel, In the Realms of the Unreal, an epic story of the virtuous Vivian girls — seven angelic sisters who lead a rebellion against godless, child-enslaving men.
Presented by ITVS (Independent Television Service), IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL, from Academy Award®-winning director Jessica Yu and producer Susan West, brings to life the hidden universe of Henry Darger. Featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning (I AM SAM, CAT IN THE HAT) and Larry Pine (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, THE ICE STORM), and the music of Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal, this innovative film has been selected for the Documentary Competition at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
The feature-length documentary chronicles Henry Darger's life, beginning with his traumatic childhood that brought the loss of his mother and baby sister. At age 7, Darger's disabled father sent him to a boys' home and then to an asylum for troubled children. His father's subsequent death left Darger a young orphan.
After escaping from the asylum at age 17, Darger retreated into a wholly internal world. Working as a janitor, he remained friendless throughout his life and many dismissed him as crazy. But Darger's fantasy life was as rich, colorful and exhilarating as his real life was tedious.
By juxtaposing these parallel yet opposite universes, IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL shows how the enigmatic, self-taught artist forged magic out of the bleakest of lives. The film brings Darger's own voice to life through the use of his first-person writings that include a remarkable 2,500-page autobiography. Through complex animation, the film is able to enter Darger's paintings, and thanks to permission from his former landlords (who kept his room intact for nearly 30 years), the film moves through Darger's physical world as well.
Darger lived his life virtually unnoticed, and the ultimate meaning of his work remains an enigma. The film begins as a mystery, but ends as a celebration of the power of individual creativity. The documentary captures the haunting imprint of an extraordinary, ordinary man.
IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL is a production of Diorama Films, LLC.,and is a presentation of the Independent Television Service.
IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL is one of seven ITVS-funded films presented at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
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