The 2016 TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival opens this Thursday, October 13 with the world premiere of TORREY PINES. This stop-motion animation, autobiographical opus marks the feature film debut of Clyde Petersen. The movie will screen at 7:15pm at SIFF Cinema Egyptian, with TWIST’s opening night gala to follow afterward.
TORREY PINES is a strange and hypnotizing film, with a visual style unlike anything we’ve seen before. The film tells the true life story of Petersen’s bizarre upbringing. Three Dollar Bill Cinema helped produce what had to have been a labor-intensive film over three years. Smarthouse Creative gives this plot summary:
“Set in Southern California in the early 1990s, the film follows Petersen’s complicated upbringing by a schizophrenic single mother. Fueled by family dysfunction and hallucinations of political conspiracy, parent and child take off on an unforgettable cross-country adventure that will forever alter their lives.”
While all of that’s true, it doesn’t necessarily prepare you for the surreal storytelling at play here. The animation looks cut out of construction paper and crudely colored in. It reminds you of childhood and how our memory of earlier times can become distorted.
We recognize the time period from the film’s many playful reminders. For example, the television features Doogie Howser’s word-processed journal entries, along with episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The VCR loads cassette tapes from the top. Plus, there’s one of those clear telephones with the colorful insides that were so in vogue at the time.
These are just some of the details I relished in the story. Indeed, there are many more. In the film, Petersen is a biological female, has a troubled mother and a burgeoning feminine body, and young Clyde is not comfortable with any of it. Friendships with boys are complicated and so young Clyde finds a lot of escapism in television. Still, it’s not an entirely unhappy time, and the movie is often very funny. We see our protagonist building forts out of boxes, playing Tetris and discovering the transformative power of garage bands. These are the disjointed memories that have shaped Petersen into the dynamic artist of today.
You might be surprised to learn that TORREY PINES is primarily devoid of dialogue. Instead, the characters express their feeling through images ballooning out of their mouths and gurgled murmurings not unlike the grown ups in Charlie Brown. In the absence of conventional dialogue, we get a lot of originally composed music and a truly inspired sound production.
That’s the number one reason you’re going to want to see TORREY PINES live at its premiere this Thursday. From TWIST:
“For this one-night-only special event, the live score for TORREY PINES will be performed by members of Your Heart Breaks and special guests, including Clyde Petersen, Zach Burba, Jacob Jaffe, Lori Goldston, Kimya Dawson, Corey J. Brewer, Chris Looney, Art Petersen, and the Beaconettes, with live Foley sound effects and soundscape design by Susie Kozowa.”
Finally, if you can’t make the film’s opening night, TWIST will host an encore performance on Saturday, October 22, 12:30pm at AMC Pacific Place.
Check out the film’s trailer here: