High praise and packed houses for Almost There's Chicago premieres

In its triumphant Chicago premiere weekend, Almost There was greeted with two sold out houses at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and a bevy of fantastic reviews and media attention. The overwhelmingly joyous and positive response was extremely gratifying for co-directors Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, who spent eight years working on the film since first discovering their subject, elderly "outsider" artist Peter Anton.

Rybicky and Wickenden brought Peter Anton back to Chicago for these special preview screenings, his first visit to the city since the controversial 2010 art exhibition featured in the film. At a pre-screening reception for all ticket holders, Anton's favorite Pringles were offered alongside Kasia's Pierogis and Kolaczki, in tribute to the moment he and the filmmakers first met. Anton saw the film's poster for the first time, chatted with guests, and held court in a hilarious post-screening Q & A (see tweets below).

On Sunday, the filmmakers were also joined on stage for a panel discussion by Deb Kerr and Cleo Wilson of INTUIT - The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, the venue where Anton's 2010 exhibition was held, and the film was given another rapturous response.

Next up for the film will be February's Big Sky Documentary Festival, and more festival appearances and wider distribution plans will be announced in the coming months.

Advance reviews and features:

  • Describing the narrative as a "delicate and beautiful dance... between a willful subject and filmmakers who intend not to stray too close but ultimately can’t help themselves," Ray Pride praised the film's "innerworldly kick" and "luminous, evocative" photography in an interview with the co-directors and environmental cinematographer David Schalliol in New City.
  • Also in an interview with the filmmakers, Nick Allen of Hollywood Chicago introduced the film as "a definitively human documentary that mixes the idiosyncratic canvas of “Grey Gardens” with the compassion of “Hoop Dreams.”
  • "I watched it three times in one week... a unique document... a searing portrait of postindustrial Indiana." - Dmitry Samarov, Belt Magazine.
  • "“Almost There” poignantly tells a tale of community, responsibility, aging, and art." - Pamela Powell, Reel Honest Reviews.
  • And for the Chicago Sun-Times, Bill Stamets picked out the "intimate documentary" as a highlight of the Siskel's Stranger Than Fiction: Documentary Premieres series.

Audience responses and Q & A highlights from Twitter