Cam Archer’s first feature-length documentary, 1981, examines and dissects the artist’s past and present narrative work, resulting in a film-essay on what it means to live with and without fiction, or with and without art. Using actors, friends and characters from Archer’s life and life’s work, new fictions or reinterpretations of old fictions are conceived, produced and decoded. Ultimately, as Archer’s worlds collide, as fictions are exhausted and extracted, he struggles to make sense of his own real life and everything else outside of it.Throughout the film, Archer draws meaning from sculptor Marcus Howley’s obscure, self-published 1981 self-help memoir Alone, People Don’t Leave Me, which echoes many of the themes, concepts and ideas in Archer’s work. What first feels like some sort of unspoken kinship between one artist and another slowly turns darkly radical, with little solace and many new ambiguities. As Archer distances himself from Howley and from his own artistic disappointments and frustrations, a new sense of self, or self without creativity, develops on screen. Gradually, Howley pushes Archer toward a desire for a life based in reality, an acceptance of creative failures, and a hope for new meaning and inspiration elsewhere.
Cam Archer has written, edited, produced and directed numerous award-winning shorts, music videos and two feature films. His first feature, Wild Tigers I Have Known, a queer coming of age film, was an official participant at the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab in 2005, when Archer was just 24. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006, with Gus Van Sant and Scott Rudin as executive producers. The following year, after a successful festival run, the film received an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as a nationwide distribution deal through IFC Films. Archer’s second feature film, Shit Year, a portrait of an actress falling apart, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 as part of their Director’s Fortnight Program. The film had a limited nationwide theatrical release and is available on home video through Factory 25. Archer is a MacDowell Colony fellow, an avid still photographer and a bike enthusiast. Archer is repped by CAA.