Art - Culture - Completed 2018

Outsider musician Peter Grudzien, the lone musical force behind The Unicorn LP, the first openly gay country psychedelic album, spends his life navigating mental illness and family chaos to ultimately find refuge in the creative world of music.

& Awards

doclisboa 2018
Nominated for a "New Talent Award for Best First Feature-Length Film"
Int'l Official Selection
FAME 2019
Prix du Jury
FAME 2019
    • Year of production
    • 2018
    • Genres
    • Art - Culture, LGBT, Documentary
    • Countries
    • USA
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • N/A
    • Duration
    • 92 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Isabelle DUPUIS, Tim GERAGHTY
    • Producer(s)
    • Isabelle DUPUIS (Aonbheannach Productions LLC)
    • Synopsis
    • An incredibly prolific songwriter, Peter Grudzien composed, performed and recorded The Unicorn LP (1974) in his childhood home in Queens, NY. Now a cult classic, the album is hailed by music critic Paul Major as “The greatest New York LP since the first Velvet Underground or first NY Dolls and still unsurpassed”.
      Peter would eventually compose and rearrange more than 900 songs throughout his lifetime, but the toll of mental illness cut short any hope of commercial success or recognition.
      Now 65-years-old, Peter Grudzien and his twin schizophrenic sister Theresa “Terry” Lewis share their dilapidated childhood home with their nonagenarian father, Joseph, in Queens, New York, struggling each day to maintain a precarious balance on the margins of society.
      When not battling outbursts of paranoia, Peter, the more functional of the pair, struggles for recognition as a musician – billing himself as a “gay country singer” and enjoying limited notoriety as an "Outsider Musician". Peter lives inside of his music, surrounded by records, instruments and home-recording gear, using the chaos of his life and mental illness as a springboard for his musical ideas and creativity. He tests his new material, from love songs for Johnny Cash to country ballads of dehumanization, on stage at a local gay karaoke bar.
      Peter's sister Terry has spent most of her adult life sealed off from the world, either in psychiatric wards or group homes, escaping into a fantasy world provided by movies and music. Covered in an ankle-deep layer of discarded trash and beauty products, her bedroom bears testimony to the debilitating cocktail of psychotropic drugs she has consumed for decades. Starved for the affection, she sets off on a heart-breaking and desperate search for a husband.
      Peter and Terry’s 99 year-old father Joseph lives in the family home’s ground floor apartment. He struggles with the burden of age, recalling a childhood working in the coal mines at age twelve and the police beatings he endured as an adult at the height of America’s labor struggle during the 1920s and 1930s. Terry remains terrified of him, while Peter maintains a tense, occasionally admiring relationship with him. At the twilight of his life, Joseph openly regrets having ever had a family.
      As Terry’s mental and physical health unravels, Peter tries to care for her and his father as best he can. Meanwhile, a menacing old friend of Peter’s moves in, adding further chaos to the house. Peter's relationship with his father becomes increasingly fraught, and he begins to fear he will lose the only home he has ever known. Through all of it, Peter continues composing and recording music, his most important life sustaining force.
      The Unicorn documents the lives of these unusual characters, with all of their tumult, sorrow and resilience, and reflects on the healing force of music.
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