Featuring a Q&A with Writer/ Director Platon Theodoris and Cast Teik-Kim Pok and Vashti Hughes
Alvin spends his days working as a Japanese translator, carefully creating the illusion of everyday normality. But then there is all that panda stuff, the good-looking girl downstairs that Alvin spies on but can’t summon the courage to approach and the mysterious substance that just keeps dripping from the ceiling. When his crazed and angry neighbour goes on a crusade to rid the block of units of a suspected flea infestation and with tensions in his life and home increasing – Alvin is forced into the ceiling to investigate. In order to bring back peace and harmony Alvin must face his captive emotions and accept the stains that permeate his sheltered existence.
In Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites, local first-time feature director Platon Theodoris has produced a film that is simultaneously intriguing and enjoyable, surreal and funny. Imbued with magical realism that recalls whimsy and verve of Michel Gondry as well as the creative imagination of Spike Jonze, all while depicting a world that is seems familiar yet somehow very, different, this is one of the most striking and original films to come out of Australia in years.
Classification: Exemption R18+
Dates & Times:
Wednesday 20 April 7:30pm
Director and Screenplay:
Arief R. Pribadi
Directors of Photography:
The film on a whole was inspired by the regular drop in meditation class at my local Buddhist Centre in Sydney, an obsessive-collector partner, Fritjof Capra’s book The Tao of Physics and – in hindsight – by a very intense ‘provocateur’ father. I didn’t set out to make such a personal film but now that it’s finished it’s become more obvious that some of the themes and characters in the film do represent many aspects of my own life, or stuff I’ve struggled with in the past like anxiety and obsessive thoughts.
We all have to accept our thoughts – not that they necessarily tell us anything about ourselves, but that they exist and they are ours. They can be left at the pre-reflective stage, where there is no interpretation or association with other things or we can become involved in thinking about them. For Alvin, his thoughts have become obsessive, habitual and a preoccupation. They have coloured and stained his mind and have become his reality. Such “thoughts” bring with them all sorts of emotions : fear, attachment, craving and aversion. This continuous interplay between opposites is a defining feature of Alvin’s world. As much as he tries to remove himself from the experiences of the outside world and control things – control his world – the world comes banging or dripping back in. Being mindful of these experiences and our emotions and thought patterns allows us to see them clearly. Once we are aware of our thought process we can have an effect on it. We can react differently or not at all. Such awareness gives Alvin a choice. Suddenly good and bad, noisy and quiet, pleasure and pain, up and down are not absolute black and white experiences belonging to different categories but merely different sides of the same reality – extreme parts of a single whole. There is an implicit unity in all opposites – something Alvin comes to understand about the experiences that stain and permeate his existence.
Through mindfulness Alvin finds a world where such opposites can exist harmoniously – but it’s a difficult journey. He must confront his trapped emotions. This stunted, scheming, little beast loves to just cook and play with thoughts. She really is a direct reflection of him. Frustration leads to inquisitiveness, which leads again to frustration as the real world also has an effect. The constant interplay of opposites is endless and Alvin must accept this in order to escape the cycle that binds him to world he has created.
After practicing meditation regularly for months I was able to view these seemingly opposite emotional states and obsessive thoughts as being part of polar relationship – where each is dynamically linked to the other. It was a real light bulb moment. In hindsight the film explores all these themes and I guess it’s one man’s journey through his own mind. The journey brings with it fear, joy and peace. Only when you can accept yourself – as you are – stains and all – and realize that black and white is just a construct can you really accept the world around you.