left margin

Director’s Biography

The basic facts are these: Phillip Duncan was born on November 4th, 1967 in Salisbury, Maryland, U.S.A. His parents were a shy 19 year-old nursing student named Judy and David, a dim-witted 23 year-old milkman soon to be shipped off to Vietnam (where it was assumed by all that he would be killed within days of his arrival). Luckily for David, he returned home safely to divorce Judy and maintain a life-long estrangement from his only child. But not so lucky for Judy and Phillip, as this established a trend of mistrust, co-dependency and low self-esteem that was to dog them both for years to come.

Of course, there was the second marriage to the abusive alcoholic air conditioning repairman, Joe. Of course, there was merciless bullying and humiliation in the marriage and by extension in Joe's fathering techniques. Of course, they lived in ten different states and Phillip went to ten different schools and learned to never ever feel at home, especially at home. Of course, there was screaming. Of course, the belt was taken off. Of course there was a fist-shaped hole in the wall covered up by a painting of a child calmly looking out on the ocean. Of course. Of course.

While in his bedroom closet hiding from Joe, Phillip developed a taste for reading and writing poetry, including German literature and theatre. He graduated from high school and since there was no money to send him to college and his talents went mostly unencouraged by the American educational system (as is true for many others there), he decided to join the Army and see Germany for himself. And like his father before him, everyone expected him to be killed within days of his arrival (though it was only a cold war at the time).

The Army worked wonders on Phillip's confidence, and he shed the morbid obesity, which he had carried with him throughout childhood (and which had served him as a second and portable bedroom closet of sorts). This finally made him of interest to members of the opposite sex and some members of the same sex. Phillip gladly welcomed all comers. He then began a relationship with a German woman, pretended he was crazy to get out of the Army, moved back to Germany, lived with her for a year, she betrayed him eventually, and Phillip went home to live with his mother. He closed his bedroom door and then there he stayed.... for the next 20 years.

One could look at the various poems, paintings, stories, short films and songs made privately by Phillip during this period as some sign of life but it is not advisable. One cannot really tell much about his depression, agoraphobia, and panic attacks from his paintings of the back garden fence. Or can one? But in 2009, the fog suddenly, inexplicably, lifted. Phillip left home through the aid of a longtime friend, Daniel Scheimberg and returned to Germany to film "Love Songs for Scumbags", a feature film meant to satirize and rewrite the history of his past 20 years in the bedroom, through a fictional character's return to Germany. In May 2010, Phillip went to New York to film "As A Whistle", a short movie musical where all the singers and performers never leave the shower and of course he is working on a screenplay about Heinrich von Kleist and of course there is that book of poetry he's writing and of course, there's that gallery opening. Of course. Of course. But maybe it's all too little, too late. Maybe there will be a sudden streetcar that he does not see, a cough that gets worse, or maybe he'll miss his mother too much. If Phillip knows, he isn't telling. -written by Phillip Duncan in 2011

left margin