Wide Awake

Director: Alan Berliner
Screenwriters: Alan Berliner

Institute History

  • 2006 Sundance Film Festival


Operating in the great tradition (but largely undiscussed arena) of personal documentary filmmaking, Alan Berliner has composed a deliriously intimate portrait of himself, his obsessiveness and manias, and his inability to sleep in his wonderfully indulgent film Wide Awake. Both an examination of insomnia and a window into one filmmaker's creative process, Wide Awake introduces us to, and allows us to look inside, a mind that can't find tranquility. Whether Berliner's insomnia is due to events in his personal life like having a child, simple neuroses, or the effects of a constantly roving intellect, Wide Awake creates a mesmerizing picture of a lifelong struggle with sleep deprivation and the elusive search for a cure. But does Berliner really want to be cured?

That his condition affects his friends, his family, and especially his mom is beyond question, and many of them find his behavior and relentless obsessiveness exasperating. But Wide Awake is also enlightening and informative as a discourse on creation and collecting, on the difference between what is trivial and what isn't, and on the overall struggle to find a balance in life. Wide Awake takes us on an engrossing, even stimulating, walk through the inner recesses of one man's mind.

(Archives note: see also Alan Berliner's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


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