Filmmaker | Educator | Consultant
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Almost There

(Producer, Co-Director, Writer)

ALMOST THERE (2015, 93 min)

Producer / Co-Director / Writer

“Emotionally charged…the documentary hones in on the ideas of community, about caregiving and giving care, about human nature and humanity, about parenting and becoming parents to the people we once called mom and dad. It is about surviving and survival — or to quote lyrics from another old standard, it’s about dusting yourself off and starting all over again. Because, as we learn from the song — and Peter Anton — nothing is impossible.” - Miriam Di Nunzio, Chicago Sun-Times

“For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare: the utility companies long ago shut off the heat and electricity, the floorboards are rotting, and the detritus of a chaotic life is precariously stacked to the ceiling. But for the filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, Anton’s home is a treasure trove, a startling collection of unseen and fascinating paintings, drawings, and notebooks, not to mention Anton himself, a character worthy of his own reality TV show. Though aging, infirm, cranky, and solitary, Anton also is funny and utterly resilient. The film’s remarkable journey follows a gifted artist through startling twists and turns. By its quietly satisfying ending, Almost There has provided enough human drama for a season of soap operas, plus insights into mental illness, aging in America, and the redemptive power of art.”True/False Film Festival 2015

Awards / Nominations (2015-16)

  • Cinema Eye Honors Spotlight Award Nominee

  • Sarasota Film Festival Special Jury Award

  • South Korea Film Festival Audience Award

  • Erikson Prize Excellence in Mental Health Media Nominee

  • Indie Memphis Film Festival Special Jury Award

  • Midwest Independent Film Awards Nominee (Best Film, Best Director) and Winner (Best Editing)

  • Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival Best of the Fest

  • Geneva Film Festival Emerging Filmmaker Award

Top Ten ‘Best in Non-Fiction’ Lists

  • Film Comment (Eric Hynes) - #10

  • Village Voice (Serena Donadoni) - #5

  • (Matt Fagerholm) - #5

  • IndieWire (Sam Adams) - #7

  • Movie City News (Ray Pride) - #9

  • POV’s Documentary Blog (Tom Roston) - #6

"Formally different but also evocatively unresolved is Almost There, a seemingly familiar character study of an aged outsider artist that becomes a thoroughly self-examining, and open-ended rumination on filmmaker-subject complicity, responsibility, and purpose. Even during the early stages of the narrative, filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden invite us to think about the nature of their relationship with subject Peter Anton, whom they meet sketching children at a local fair in East Chicago, Indiana, and follow home to his jerry-rigged disaster of a home. “They took pictures of my underwear,” Anton narrates via voice-over, effectively critiquing proceedings from a future tense. “People told me to beware. Maybe they were out to take advantage of me. I want my story told, and that’s why I put up with it.” Such mutual interrogation takes place long before the filmmakers find out about a dark chapter in Anton’s damaged life, which forces them to further question the entire endeavor—particularly a gallery show they’ve set up for Anton in Chicago. He’s apologetic about not being truthful to the filmmakers, but doesn’t regret what it’s done to the film. “I’m not just a project,” he says. Yet Rybicky goes one further than exposing the seams of the doc filmmaking process. He interrogates similarities between Anton’s family and his own, which pushes the film past self-reflection into self-exposure. It’s rare for a film to be both sincerely outwardly and inwardly focused, and pretty much unheard of for one to explore, as Almost There does, how they can be effectively the same thing." - Eric Hynes, Museum of the Moving Image