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Slamdance Film Tells Narrative Within Context Of Life In A Commune

Slamdance Festival

A dramatic film presented at the Slamdance Film Festival, called “Spiral Farm” is a coming-of-age tale set in a modern-day commune.

Although this kind of commune is associated more with the Sixties, director Alec Tibaldi said he found there were more of them existing now, than you might imagine.

Jade Fusco, one of the cast, said there is a case to be made for this type of community.

“I think more and more people are interested in this sort of off-the-grid communal, collaborative lifestyle too because it’s the way we’re really meant to live.” Fusco continued, “We’re meant to live in community and not in isolated, nuclear families. We’re meant to interact and to raise our families together and I think to share land. I think a lot of people are coming back to that. Also, just because the way the economy is and so many people can’t afford to live a lifestyle that they want to within the nuclear family model. I at least, know a lot of friends and a lot of people in my community who are really interested in building communes or eco-villages or permaculture communities where people are living off the land and where the lifestyle is a collaborative effort.”

The difficulty Fusco said, comes when individuals fall down in their commitment to the group. That’s the dilemma for the 17-year-old lead character, Anahita, who questions her life when members of her own family slack off.

She’s played by Piper DePalma.

“Because it just shows that if there is one or two people who are not all in and not supporting everyone else then it ultimately goes to another person.” DePalma said, “I think that’s what Anahita is dealing with is picking up the work for her sister and her mom and having all these responsibilities that she’s willing to do, but because I think she at first is really into the whole communal living thing because it’s all she really knows. It’s only until she’s exposed to something else that she realizes oh there’s something more than this that this life that maybe isn’t as perfect as it seemed in the beginning.”

Director Tibaldi said he was interested in examining the conflicts, including the dynamic between the girl and her mother, played by veteran actress Amanda Plummer.

“I was really interested in exploring a dysfunctional familial dynamic within the context of a commune and to see how traditional roles in a family shift because of the communal living.” Tibaldi explained, “In our main family it’s kind of on purpose a bit unclear who’s related to who. When you go visit these communes it’s really not clear if anyone is related by blood or who are these children. It’s all very unclear because the commune in itself is a family unit and I was interested in exploring how that would complicate a traditional family.”

DePalma has made this one feature and some short films, all with Tibaldi.

“Alec is a wonderful director.” DePalma continued, “He and I have been working together for quite some time and we have this established relationship and a great friendship. Our comfortability with each other allows room for play and improvisation. There are times when the scenes were structured and we got more direction but other times when we were allowed to let loose and find the world with the film through relationships with your scene partner and stuff like that and have fun.”

Actress Piper DePalma for the film “Spiral Farm.” Its next showing is Tuesday at 7:45 pm at Treasure Mountain Inn.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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