Paradise. 2009. USA. Directed by Michael Almereyda

“I am enthralled by Paradise,” Jonathan Lethem writes, “a film whose documentary eye wanders while seeming to have great fixity of purpose just below the level of conscious apprehension.” The artistic gifts that Lethem describes—a combination of quiet observation, narrative complexity, and an appreciation of the sensuous, material world—have distinguished Michael Almereyda’s films for the past 20 years, whether in fiction (Another Girl Another Planet; Nadja; and his contemporary retelling of Hamlet) or in documentary (This So-Called Disaster, which follows Sam Shepard directing a production of one of his plays; and William Eggleston in the Real World). Almereyda’s most recent film, Paradise, is an astonishingly beautiful and poignant sketchbook, a collection of fragmentary episodes captured during 10 years of travels. It is a gathering up of intimately shared moments with friends and strangers, rendered with a sense of mystery, wonderment, and sly humor. Almereyda has noted that, over time, Paradise became “less a self-portrait and more of a panoramic group portrait of children and their adult counterparts. A description of the world we inherit, fumble around in, and grow into.” Episodes were shot in roughly two dozen cities in nine different countries, and they are linked, the director writes, by “the idea that life is made up of brief paradisiacal moments—moments routinely taken for granted, and always slipping away.” Almereyda introduces his film on September 24.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film.

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