Jonathan Caouette was a filmmaker long before he even realized he was a filmmaker — shooting himself as a pre-teen performing overwrought, “semi-drag” routines, capturing on Super 8 and video everyone around him, documenting his daily routine. Eventually he put the pieces together — combining them with an unflinching quest to connect with and perhaps save his mother, Renee — and Tarnation was born. In the world of cinema, Tarnation is a singularity — the spontaneous result of an unharnessed creative spirit. The movie is a thunderously emotional, avant-garde head trip depicting not only Caouette’s evolution into a fully formed gay man, but the harrowing mental deterioration of his mother, subjected to years of shock treatment as a girl. It’s a testament to the days of art-house filmmaking, informed as much by Jean-Luc Godard as it is by master documentarian Frederick Wiseman. Caouette hasn’t been heard from since Tarnation‘s release, yet a quick trip to IMDB reveals that a sequel may be in the offing this year. We can only hope the gifted Caouette can still hit the high note he did with his astonishing debut.