Last Sunday I was privileged to be at the World Premiere of HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS: The Artistic Life of Robert Singleton at the Clay Center in Charleston. This AmpMediaProject documentary told the life story of noted artist, Robert Singleton, and it packs quite a punch.
Filmakers Douglas Imbrogno (an old friend who is responsible for me writing this blog) and Bobby Lee Messer have crafted a truly compelling work with this film.
While I knew the name, I was not familiar with Singleton’s work or story, and I was not expecting such an emotional roller-coaster to be packed into a brisk, 60-minute film. Based on interviews with Singleton, and using several effective techniques, HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS tells a life story that includes a violent and traumatic childhood, a closeted existence as a gay man in the intolerant 1950s, his stunning success as an artist, coming to grips with his own sexuality just as AIDS was devastating his social circle, and a spiritual awakening that saw him giving end-of-life care to many people who had been shunned by their families. Throw in a 20-year dry spell where he couldn’t paint and the fact that, at 85 he’s still with us and producing incredible art once again, and you have a record of an amazing human being.
It’s a powerful film about overcoming great adversity and living an epic life.
Imbrogno and Messer tell this story through narration, Singleton’s own words, archival photographs and the ethical and judicious use of computer animation to recreate moments from his youth. HOUSE IN THE CLOUDS is brilliantly done, and my only criticism is that I think they had enough material to make a longer film…and maybe that’s a goal for the future.
There are a few other showings scheduled with more in the planning stages. There will be screenings at Gradient Projects in Thomas. W.Va. SATURDAY, OCT 14, 7 PM and SUNDAY, Oct. 15, PM. These are limited-seating shows and tickets ($15) will go on sale online and also be available in Thomas shortly.
To keep up with more screenings as they are scheduled, you can subscribe to the free newsletter and Substack site HERE.
It took me a few days to digest this powerful and beautiful film before I could write about it, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
You can see the trailer here…