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Life of Sean DeLear (The)

Country: Austria, Language: English, German, 82 mins

  • Director: Markus Zizenbacher
  • Producer: Markus Zizenbacher

CGiii Comment

A blazingly colorful and exuberantly transgressive personality who dazzled Los Angeles' underground musical and artistic scenes in the late-1990s and 2000s, Sean DeLear (1964-2017) suddenly emerged as a genuinely seminal cultural figure via the posthumous 2022 publication of their intimate and explicit teenage diaries from 1979. I Could Not Believe It joyously chronicles the experiences of a young Black, queer creative finding their identity, voice and style decades before Barry Jenkins' (rather more downbeat) Moonlight.

The Life of Sean DeLear is a vibrantly multi-faceted, buoyantly propulsive documentary portrait of this irresistibly charismatic one-off - sketched in celebratory but commendably clear-eyed style by writer-director Markus Zizenbacher. There can be very few people better qualified to do justice to this particular tale. Zizenbacher befriended DeLear - born Anthony Robertson in Simi Valley, an obscure California backwater - after the latter relocated to Vienna in the early 2010s. There the former front-person of Silver Lake post-punk-combo Glue reinvented themselves as a cabaret performer and collaborated with famed art-collective Gelitin before passing away aged just 52. "SeanDe" entrusted their treasure-trove audiovisual archive to Zizenbacher, who with co-editor Sebastian Schreiner has crafted an eclectic collage generously spiced with effervescent extracts from DeLear's own extensive video-diaries. These jagged hand-held snapshots bring back to often-hilarious life the electric days (and especially nights) from a quarter of a century ago, placed in retrospective context by present-day testimony from the survivors who knew SeanDe best and loved them the most. Sean DeLear - as in "chandelier" - lit up their world; Markus Zizenbacher now illuminates Sean DeLear for ours.


Cast & Characters

Sean DeLear (as Self (archiveFootage))
Scott Ewalt (as Self)
Ali Janka (as Self)
Michelle Lamy (as Self)
Jeppe Laursen (as Self)
Ann Magnuson (as Self)
Steve McDonald (as Self)
Rick Owens (as Self)
Helen Parkes (as (voice))
Susan Tyrrell (as Self (archiveFootage))