The American documentary “Angel Applicant” is an intertwined story of Swiss German abstract painter Paul Klee (1879-1940) and film maker Ken August Meyer. Both were and are suffering from a disease Scleroderma as are some 2.5 million people globally. It is caused by an overactive immune system attacking the body’s healthy connective tissue including skin, muscle and joints creating scar tissue. Systematic Scleroderma is the most severe form of the disease attacking organs including both the heart and lungs and consequently fatal in a slow downward spiral. Both Klee and Meyer suffered from Systematic Scleroderma.
Through Klee’s paintings Meyer finds a personal recounting of the disease by Klee. Even the titles of Klee paintings leave a trail of suffering, uncertainty, fear and hope. I last saw a Klee exhibit in Amsterdam a couple of decades ago and then it was just interesting modern art. But listening to Meyer I agree there appears to be a story that Klee is attempting to convey and I only wish I had heard that story before attending that exhibit.
Near the end of Klee’s life a few of his paintings had angels perhaps reflecting his impending demise. But for Meyer, Klee was as an angel sent from another realm to become his own guardian angel.
A fascinating and at certain points enthralling and inspirational journey of both Klee and Meyer. Meyer still is with us having had a double lung transplant to replace his scarred lungs that were not distributing enough oxygen to support the pumping of his heart. Suffering can create a deeper appreciation of the beauty of life. I see Klee in an entirely different light than I did in Amsterdam thanks to Ken August Meyer. You might even say I see life and disease in an entirely different light.
The documentary has its international premiere at Toronto Hot Docs on 30 April and 5 May. Ken August Meyer will be at the screenings. Streams 5-9 May geoblocked to Canadian devices.
Directed by Ken August Meyer.
RKS 2023 Film Rating 90/100.