In her mid-forties, filmmaker Myra Paci finds herself worn out–by her day job, mothering, low-grade conflict with her spouse–and fantasizes about running away from it all. When a friend suggests that Myra’s Uncle Peter–an eccentric, retired British pathologist and art collector living in small-town Virginia–would be a good subject for a film, Myra jumps at the idea.
Myra travels from her home in Berkeley, California to Peter’s home–or more precisely his two adjacent homes in Winchester, VA–to document his life, which Peter couldn’t be happier about. We soon learn that Peter Bullough is not actually Myra’s uncle and that they’ve had a close relationship since she was a little girl. We also learn that Peter was best friends with her father, a fellow pathologist and an Italian immigrant who died years ago, and that Peter was a quasi-member of the family beloved by Myra’s mother and her two brothers until something happened and they all began drifting apart.
Over the course of the film, as Myra questions artists Peter has supported, his medical colleagues, an ex-lover, as well as members of her family, things become more and more thorny. In the process of investigating Peter and his vast collection of art, rare books and medical oddities, Myra attempts to unearth the truth underlying this web of relationships and discovers that the bond she and Peter shared is quite different from what she thought.
Adventures in Peterland: A Mystery of Art and Love is my second feature film and is a personal documentary about the creation and appreciation of art. It’s alsoabout family, love, betrayal, and the losses and gains of living in a body that gets sick or old and dies. Making and appreciating art and connecting with oneself and others are ways of moving through loss towards beauty and even joy.
It is rare for women to put themselves–scarred by breast cancer and no longer young–and their inner worlds out into the world with unapologetic boldness and honesty. With many more women entering politics and with the shakeouts from the #MeToo movement during this time of political upheaval, women are learning that they are more than their capacity to nurture others; they can also lead in the realization that it is in humans’ relationship with one another and with the natural world that hope for a healthy future resides.
After watching the movie consider the following themes for discussion….
- Family: the one you’re born into, the one(s) you make.
- Friendship and Love: between men; men and women; women and women; adults and children; animals and humans; and of course between all the variations in gender.
- Feminism: women’s lives inside and outside the home.
- Gender Expressions. Sexuality expressions.
- Illness. Death. Loss. How to prepare for it. How to accept it.
- The practice, need and place of art in our lives.
- Dandyism. What is it? Who is it?
- Balancing commitment to others with commitment to oneself.