Hallelujah! Ron Athey: A Story of Deliverance (1997, 90 min)
Produced and directed by Catherine Gund. Raised by his grandmother to be a Pentecostal minister, Ron Athey was speaking in tongues by the age of ten, a heroin addict by seventeen, and a performance artist by twenty-three. Hallelujah! presents Athey's life and work, spending time with him on and off the stage in Mexico City; Zagreb, Croatia; and Los Angeles. Funded by Jerome Foundation, Norton Family Foundation, Estate Project, Wexner Center, individuals.
An HIV-positive gay man, Athey practices sadomasochistic ritual as a personal religion, using it as a means of transcendence. Although he has become sober and rejected the church, his current work is still full of religious iconography, and he performs self-flagellation and blood-letting on stage as theatrical autobiography. As Athey says, "There are many ways to say hallelujah!"
Using an intimate hand-held, Hi-8 camera style, Hallelujah! combines at home verite footage and interviews with scenes from Athey's trilogy: Martyrs and Saints, Four Scenes in a Harsh Life, and Deliverance.
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