Facets Cinémathèque

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November 24–30, 2017

Chicago Premiere


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Film still: Sylvio Film still: Sylvio
"A work of gentle whimsy and surprising pathos... [filmmakers] Birney and Audley have an impressive visual sense"
  —Village Voice
"[Sylvio] Bernardi is an actor of genius; his Janus-faced pantomime, as Sylvio struggles voicelessly for a place among human chatterboxes, channels the infinite grace of the great silent-film comedians"
  —New Yorker
"At turns absurd and genuinely bittersweet... Norman Rockwell by way of Pee Wee Herman"
"This charming lo-fi attuned to its own eccentric wavelength, equal parts absurd and poignant"
  —Chicago Tribune

This offbeat film is the story of a small town gorilla, Sylvio, who is stuck in his job at a debt collection agency. Deep down he just wants to express himself and find fulfillment in his free time by playing basketball or by making experimental puppet shows titled "The Quiet Times With Herbert Herpel," who, in each episode, carries out a simple task, such as enjoying a Christmas feast or chopping firewood.

These quiet moments are highlights of his life, until the day that Sylvio knocks on the door of local TV host Al Reynolds (Kentucker Audley) and is mistaken for a guest and whisked in front of the cameras. While his debut on the show is less than stellar, the viewers see Sylvio's series of on-air mishaps as entertainment. For better or worse, Sylvio makes a splash, and it may be just what Al needs to boost ratings. However, Sylvio discovers that his fame is threatening to shatter his identity, sending him on an odyssey of self-discovery where reality and fantasy start to blend.

This chronicle of a working class ape struggling to find his place in human civilization is at surprisingly absurd and genuinely bittersweet. Spun off from the wildly popular Simply Sylvio vine series, this beguiling feature from directors Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley mines extraordinary whimsy and pathos from the sight of a man in a cheap gorilla suit wearing people clothes and sunglasses.

Directed by Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley, U.S.A., 2017, 80 mins.


  • Fri., Nov. 24 at 8:30 pm
  • Sat.–Sun., Nov. 25–26 at 6 & 8 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Nov. 27–30 at 8:30 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation