Isaiah Zagar is the Michelangelo of South Philadelphia, having created an ongoing series of idiosyncratic mosaics that cover 50,000 square feet of wall space in his home neighborhood. Together with his wife of 43 years, Julia, Isaiah has turned artistic obsession into an ever-growing canvas that expresses his inner world and the breadth of his boundless imagination. How could Isaiah's son Jeremiah not make a documentary about his bohemian old man? After a few years of compiling footage at weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties, Jeremiah accompanies his parents when they pick up his older brother from rehab — and like so many other families who have to deal with a relative who's also an addict, the strain fractures them. Isaiah confesses to a long-time affair with his assistant, and Julia throws him out; Jeremiah films the disintegration of his parents with self-revulsion, unable to stop the project. It's all Jeremiah has of the family he once thought was perfect. In A Dream, Jeremiah's finished film, is about not just his father the artist or the Zagar family, but about coming to grips with the fact that your parents are fallible. We are frail creatures capable of marvelous feats, not the least of which are compassion for other people's weaknesses and forgiveness for their transgressions. In A Dream screens at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (May 15 through 17) at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). Tickets are $5 to $6.
May 15-17, 2009