"Dad, when you gonna be home?" says the voice on the answering machine. "I really, really, really wanna put on a show." And with that a little girl with angel's wings tells a story-her father's story, a journey through 4,000 years of Western civilization. This beautiful bio-epic touches on everything from Egyptian, Greek, and Norse mythology to the French Revolution and World War II, and then on to September 11. "Don't look back," our young Virgil warns us, quoting Eurydice-or Pennebaker-but of course we do. Obliquely inspired by Finnegan's Wake, and with appearances by Don Quixote, Socrates, Hamlet, Joan of Arc, Che Guevara, Little Red Riding Hood, Tristan and Isolde, St. Teresa of Avila, Franz Kafka, Hedda Gabler, and many more, Richard Sylvarnes' second feature contemplates desire and greed, hope and dreams, and love and death. "The most merciful thing in the world," says the angel-winged child, "is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents." Entirely composed of stills, most of them photographed in the style of nineteenth-century tableaux photography, manipulated through stop-motion animation, flicker, and rotoscoping, H.C.E. plays like an early magic lantern show, as if Eadweard Muybridge had gotten his hands on Final Cut Pro. The film is guaranteed to capture the intrigue of history buffs, and cultural-savvy parents. With Thomas Jay Ryan (Henry Fool) as the voice of God and Annie Sprinkle as Eve.
Richard Sylvarnes is a filmmaker and photographer whose work has been shown at national and international venues. His first feature-length film The Cloud of Unknowing premiered at the inaugural 2002 TFF, and then continued on in festivals throughout Asia and Europe and was released by Possible Films in 2004. He also made two short films: Landscape After The Battle for the band Interpol and Siberia for designer Miho Miho. Recently he collaborated with artist John Torreano on the video Dancing Man, which will premiere at the 2006 Thessaloniki Film Festival. In 2001, he formed the band Sylvarluxe with the purpose of designing sound and music for films, but the band quickly expanded. With Welsh born Katy Lewis sharing vocals, Sylvarluxe is completing the finishing touches on its first record. Sylvarnes studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Berklee College of Music, New York University, and the School of Visual Arts. He was also a recent guest lecturer at Harvard University. H.C.E. is his second feature.