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Documentary about East Chicago outsider artist playing at Siskel Center

The documentary film "Almost There" depicts East Chicago outsider artist Peter Anton.  

"Almost There" is a documentary about outsider artist Peter Anton, who ran a popular talent club in the Calumet Region for nearly two decades and ended up living in ghastly squalor with dozens of cats in a collapsing East Chicago home, which served as his studio and inspiration.

The film, which a critic has described as being of Oscar quality, features some of the most beautiful and haunting footage of Northwest Indiana landscapes you'll ever see on film, including the BP Whiting Refinery, East Chicago's Marktown neighborhood and the ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor steel mill, as well as boarded-up and even burning homes.

You'll see plenty of recognizable Region locations, including Pierogi Fest and The Times' Munster office.

Fillmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden describe it as a "coming of old age story. Their movie, which tracks Anton's life for nearly a decade, delves deeply into broader issues, such as how society cares for the old and mentally ill, and whether an artist should be judged solely for his work.

It's now playing through Thursday at the Gene Siskel Film Center at 164 N State Street in downtown Chicago. "Almost There," which was produced by Chicago-based Kartemquin Films, plays at 8 p.m. tonight and Wednesday, and at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The filmmakers and leaders of Chicago's Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art have been on hand to discuss the film after the screenings. At Thursday's screening, there will be a question-and-answer with Northwest Indiana residents Eve Gomez, Dan and Diane McKern, and Shelby Withrow, who are all featured in the film.

"Almost There" also is available on video on demand.


Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.