In the not-too-distant future, an all-seeing surveillance state conducts "dream audits" to collect taxes on the unconscious lives of the populace. Mild-mannered government agent James Preble (Kentucker Audley) travels to a remote farmhouse to audit the dreams of Arabella "Bella" Isadora (Penny Fuller), an eccentric, aging artist. Entering Bella's vast VHS archive, which contains a lifetime of dreams, Preble stumbles upon a secret that offers him a chance at love—and hope for escape.
Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney's playfully surreal romantic fantasy envisions a world not so different from our own: a glitchy digital dystopia where every human experience is monetized—where even our unconscious minds have been colonized by advertising.
"With its wildly expressive color schemes and inventive dreamscapes, Strawberry Mansion also conjures an optimistic future through a retreat to our analog past. Audley and Fuller are disarmingly funny as the intergenerational (and interdimensional) lovers, while Grace Glowicki is affecting as the young Bella of Preble's dreams. Electronic musician Dan Deacon scores this strange vision with shimmering synths and hypnotic strings." — Sundance Film Festival
We set out to make a movie that felt like getting lost in a strange dream. Sometimes you don't know where you are, or where you're headed. The thread you thought you were following disappears behind your back. You turn around and it's nowhere. The film is inspired in some ways by the fantasy movies we saw as kids in the 80's; Hopefully there's a childlike exuberance that can be felt throughout this unpredictable journey, as tension mounts from invented stakes, creating a world all its own. But there are larger themes at play as well: a mistrust of advertising, an uneasiness with mass surveillance, and a fear that our economic systems inspire overconsumption and erode natural ways of life. Time is thrown together into a mystical mixed batch where past and future exist together. Like a dream, not everything makes sense but the moments of vivid curiosity and confusion, flashes of terror, and the potent feelings of love, feel real and linger long after the dream has ended.
Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney