Austin Vickers said it is possibly the most important trial you will ever witness, one that is literally the matter of life or death.
And, it is making its Canadian debut at the Shatford Centre on Tuesday. Vickers is the writer/producer of People V The State Of Illusion, a documentary/drama questioning the nature of reality and through an examination of your own perceptions, beliefs and illusions it allows those watching to be both the judge and jury.
“It is really teaching people and trying to show people what the mechanics of perception are and the power of their imagination, because I think we typically underestimate it,” said Vickers, who spent his childhood living in Penticton, up until Grade 8 at Pen High, when he moved to the United States with his family.
The film is set in the notorious Old Main Prison of the New Mexico State Penitentiary and tells the story of Aaron Roberts, a single father who is arrested and tried on charges following an incident that claims the life of a woman. Roberts is convicted at trial and sent to prison and his daughter becomes a ward of the State. While there, an attorney learns of her plight and the story of her father. The lawyer decides to represent her in an innovative and emotionally-compelling case against the State. The movie explores the science and power of perception and imagination and the prison walls of habitual thought and behaviour. Vickers hopes it elevates the spirits of all who watch it.
“I wanted to make a movie that really mattered, a movie that wasn’t just entertainment and just fulfilling people for the moment but give something they could take away with them that would benefit them for the rest of their lives,” said Vickers.
Having already had an interest in some of the science used in the film — psychology, philosophy and physics — Vickers, who had been a very successful trial attorney, woke up one day realizing his life wasn’t what he wanted.
“I found myself stuck in a place that I didn’t like, doing a job I didn’t like and having a life I didn’t like. I just decided to do something about it and began to really make an effort to learn and change my life. Up until that point I hadn’t really aligned my actions with my beliefs of the things I learned. I decided to make a really drastic change and get into the world of speaking and teaching,” said Vickers, who is also a published author.
Vickers said the film has been doing well in the U.S., he opened it last weekend in Los Angeles and an article in Scientific American validated all the science used in the film. He said the docu/drama will translate well with Canadians and is generally for an adult audience from 20 years old and up.
“We get a lot of calls from students that understand many of the concepts even though they might not necessarily have the life experience they are still very interested in what is presented in the film because it also addresses a lot of the cultural issues that are going on right now around the economy, people losing their jobs, stress and all of that. It is very relevant,” said Vickers.
One of the writer/producer’s favourite parts of an opening night is hosting the question and answer sessions after the film.
“Everyone really engages with us. It really presents a lot of provocative science and concepts … there are a lot of sequences and parts to the movie that provoke a lot of questions,” said Vickers, who will be hosting a Q and A in Penticton at the Shatford Centre after the showing.
Tickets for the May 8 showing at 7 p.m. of People V The State of Illusion can be purchased at the Shatford Centre and Vitamin King for $10, or will be $15 at the door.