"Darger is one of the world's best-known outsider artists, but the fact that no one interviewed in IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL, Jessica Yu's excellent new documentary on his life and work, can agree on how to pronounce his name speaks volumes."
-Dave Kehr, New York Times

-San Francisco Chronicle

In the Realms of the Unreal
This innovative feature length documentary, directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Jessica YU and produced by Susan WEST, explores the parallel lives of legendary outsider artist Henry Darger. Reclusive janitor by day, visionary artist by night, Darger’s 15,000 page novel details the exploits of the Vivian Girls, seven angelic sisters who lead a rebellion against godless, child-enslaving men. Featuring the voices of Dakota FANNING (I AM SAM, CAT IN THE HAT) and Larry Pine (THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, THE ICE STORM), the music of Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal and the work of a team of animators, this wholly original film tells the story of a hidden universe.

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL explores outsider art from the inside. Eschewing expert opinion, it reflects the uniqueness of its subject, employing vivid animation and experimental elements to immerse us in Darger’s world and all its strange beauty. Brought to life on film, the works reverberate with universal themes: the search for meaning, control, connection, moral direction. Through Darger’s eyes, film reveals this odd man to be Everyman.

Darger lived a virtually friendless existence, but his imaginary life was as exciting and colorful as his real life was tedious. By day, he scrubbed floors, attended Mass, rummaged through garbage cans. By night, he ruled a world in which the forces of innocence and good fought a bloody battle against the forces of treachery and evil. By juxtaposing Henry Darger’s parallel but opposite universes, the film shows how he forged magic out of the bleakest of lives, leaving a legacy that has inspired other artists around the world.

Darger moved through the world virtually unnoticed, and the ultimate meaning of his work remains an enigma. The film begins as a mystery, but ends as a celebration of the power of individual creativity. IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL captures the haunting imprint of an extraordinary, ordinary man.

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL is a production of Diorama Films, LLC., and a presentation of ITVS.