The Sonosopher

Students Torben Bernhard and Travis Low are fusing education and artistry in a new documentary on UVSC’s poet and artist-in-residence, Alex Caldiero.

Bernhard and Low, both in the Integrated Studies program, are using their academic pursuits in Humanities, Communications and Philosophy to present the art and performance of their mentor and teacher Caldiero in a full-length film. After meeting in classes taught by Caldiero and discussing his influence on their academic and personal lives, they agreed to collaborate on the documentary, a conception that will also serve as their senior capstone project.

The young filmmakers describe Caldiero as a friend, mentor and teacher. The goal of the documentary is to show both the professional and personal sides of Caldiero, a progressive and often misunderstood artist.

“We’re not doing a documentary on God here, but that makes it more beautiful, more human. His story transcends boundaries, and there is something charismatic and magical about him,” said Bernhard.

Caldiero himself says that being the focus of a documentary provides for a dichotomous experience; both exhilarating and unsettling. At the same time, he sees it as a opportunity to “catch a new glimpse of myself.”

“I attribute my creativity to being creative; that is, to doing what needs be done,” says Caldiero.

When the poet and artist performs he does so with original melodic verbal imagery, as if he has some unexplained power cocooned within him, longing to escape into the air as recitation. Presenting freedom in language, Caldiero has audibly mesmerized many contemporary artists and poets from across the globe.

Low believes that Caldiero “doesn’t understand the world in a normal narrative arc. He sees art as an evolution. When Alex speaks and tells stories, I feel like he is retrieving knowledge from a very ancient source.”

Vegor Pedersen, who worked on the documentary This Divided State, which covered the arrival of Michael Moore and Sean Hannity to the campus in 2004, is producing the Caldiero documentary.

“I trust Torben and Travis implicitly. They are smart and understand what Alex is about. We all feel he has given so much; people adore him and see him wherever he performs,” said Pedersen.

Currently the filmmakers are navigating through the process of filming, while hoping to find adequate funding for the project. They have applied for a grant that would allow them to travel to New York City to record Caldiero’s performances there this spring, and also to Sicily where Caldiero was born and raised.

They plan to have the final cut by the end of the year and are planning on submitting the film to both national and international festivals. “I think it’s Sundance worthy; that’s how we see it,” says Bernhard. 

Scott Carrier, a friend of Caldiero for over 20 years and a professor in the Communications department thinks that Bernhard and Low are on the right track to producing a quality documentary. 

“Alex is captivating to many people because he speaks many languages.  He’s kind of the embodiment of the word ‘language’, or like a meta-mechanic of meaning. Writers, dancers, musicians and visual artists are attracted to him because he greases their wheels,” says Carrier. 

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