Wisconsin Film Festival Spotlight: “The Dance of Reality”


Tickets for the 2014 Wisconsin Film Festival went on sale March 8, and each day between now and the start of the festival on April 3, I’ll be zooming in on one of the more than 140 films playing at the festival. If you have suggestions about films you’d like to know more about as you’re planning your festival experience, let me know in comments.

The Dance of Reality” (Wednesday, April 9, 6 p.m, Sundance Cinemas)

“If you are great, then ‘Il Topo’ is great. If you are limited, then ‘Il Topo’ is limited.”

That’s 85-year-old director Alejandro Jodorowsky talking about his midnight movie cult classic in a profile in Sunday’s New York Times magazine. Jodorowsky hasn’t made many movies over his career, and hasn’t been happy with all of them, but he’s made films like the Buddhist Western “Il Topo” and the surreal “The Holy Mountain” that nobody else could have made.

After a 23-year absence, Jodorowsky returns with “The Dance of Reality,” another movie only Jodorowsky could have made. It’s an autobiographical film, albeit one that doesn’t stick strictly to facts, telling the story of Jodorowsky’s upbringing in a remote Chile town, bullied by his classmates, intimidated by his father (in a neat twist, played by Jodorowsky’s son) and retreating into the world of movies, books and philosophy. Jodorowsky himself appears in the film as a sort of narrative guide, and why not?

When “Reality” played at the Cannes Film Festival, Scott Foundas of Variety said it was “playful, tragic and surprisingly light on its feet,” coming from a more personal place than films like “Il Topo.” Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle said the film was more hinged and coherent than most of Jodorowsky’s films, and a “a welcome return for an artist who truly deserves the sobriquet “El Maestro.”

Next up for Jodorowsky is “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” a documentary about the notorious shelved version of the Frank Herbert classic. But there will be plenty of time to look back at the Jodorowsky films that didn’t get made. Right now we have a new one that he did, and that’s cause for celebration.

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