The authorial voice in SLY, a film by Reid Calvert, is one which is both obscured and examined by the voices of his subjects. It is highly personal whilst being deeply alienating. Through the subtle investigation of an actor and his relationship to his trade, micro nations, wife-carrying competitions, banger racing, freemasonry, life models, dancers and various individuals (both actors and otherwise), Calvert has begun to ask questions about group mentality. We are left, after the credits roll, with a profound sense of the joyous but also fraught nature of what this might mean.
The artist's intention was to find people who in some way embodied sentiments that he might have felt lacking in the life of his alter-ego/cult-leader persona: Sly. These things were love, a father figure, power, wisdom and fame. Once these people and peoples, who in some way epitomised what Sly might have been lacking had been found, they would be subsumed into the identity of Sly. This process is not only concerned with the idea of the group (the cult, the organisation, the movement) but also the individual and how he might function in terms of what might be expected from him.
The recurring setting, Gallion’s Hill, has a still eerier quality each time it is visited. Sly's subjects seem to find themselves there without any sense of having travelled on the bus to the suburbs. The hill then seems to be a projection straight from the mind of Sly and not a real setting at all. The form that the film takes, reminiscent of a documentary, is pivotal and directly linked to the process.
It's a documentation of an imaginary leader and his internal happenings. Through its pace and the sequences with dance and movement, the film depicts the lusty dreamscapes and deep yearnings of Sly who is himself imagined.