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Cinema Lamont and Detroit Puppet Company Present Month-Long Puppet Film Series | Movies | Detroit

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The Adventures of Prince Ahmedargued that it was the oldest animated feature still with us.

Throughout August, residents of Metro Detroit will have the chance to see a range of free and pay-per-view puppet-centric movies every mild Friday night of the month. A collaboration between Cinema Lamont and Detroit Puppet Company featuring an eclectic suite of works, each entry in the series will screen at 8:45 p.m. at the Detroit Puppet Company Amphitheater at 2221 Carpenter Ave. at the Detroit-Hamtramck border (except for an afternoon screening of The Adventures of Prince Ahmed Saturday August 13 and a live performance by Tom Lee The great animal race of the zodiac on Saturday, August 27, both at the Detroit Film Theater).

The screenings cover nearly a century of work, from the silent 1926 The Adventures of Prince Ahmedrendered by Lotte Reininger in elaborate paper cutouts, to the years 2021 The plastic bag store, a pensive look from last year at how our descendants might view the mess we’re leaving behind. Through these works – as so often with the craft of puppeteering – the material nature and visible labor behind each film colors what is expressed on screen. In each, whether they are hybrid works (as for Faust) or immersive stop-motion, the major physical features of the films’ respective worlds are built from the ground up, allowing for the presentation of a distinct aesthetic world in each.

With that in mind, what follows is an overview of the works featured: one that attempts to capture the range of purposes and styles that feature therein.

The plastic bag store

Friday August 5
Detroit Puppet Company Amphitheater

Often presented as part of a larger installation. by Robin Frohardt The plastic bag store turns out to be quite hearty as a standalone feature. Veering between a variety of flat and three-dimensional puppet modes and embracing satire alongside more meditative aspects, the film provides a glimpse even within itself of the many puppet modes developed over the centuries. By incorporating different styles of presentation that cover much of human history, the film (which was not available in its entirety at the time of filing) seems well-suited to its timeless subject matter, which will surely outlive us all.

Alongside it, Frohardt’s short “FITZCARDBOARDALDO (a cardboard Fitzcarraldo)” plays on Werner Herzog’s feature film in which a team of workmen successfully pull a ship over a mountain. Working in playful dialogue with this, Frohard shifts the register of the film’s work from the monumental to the minute, giving it a different weight. A more intimate collaboration is spotlighted here, setting it in opposition to the consciously grandiose efforts of the original – something “The Corrugation of Dreams” (also shown) does in its own behind-the-scenes portrait of the labor involved.


Friday August 12
Detroit Puppet Company Amphitheater

Both existential and romantic in the vein of much of Charlie Kaufman’s work, 2015 Anomalised captures the drudgery of alienating white-collar existence with a style of light irony and disarming tenderness. Corporate meetings, winding hallways and a sense of self as alone and helpless are all present, the film treading like the floor of shows such as Enlightened and Breakup before and since. Deploying a medium (in the film’s committed use of puppets) more often used for fantastic things for a corporate conference, the very definition of banal brazenness, Kaufman aims to get to the heart of feelings more easily evoked than described. .

The Adventures of Prince Ahmed

Saturday August 13
Detroit Cinema

Often considered the oldest animated feature still with us, Lotte Reininger The Adventures of Prince Ahmed (released in Germany in 1926) is still a marvel. Made in overlapping cutouts of solid, translucent paper backlit to create ornate silhouettes, the film still stands out for its remarkable sense of design. With its puppet characters managing to feel both ornate and remarkably solid, whether amid acrobatic transformations or swooning joints, the film reworks parts of Thousand and one Night (“Aladdin” among them) to form a tale that spans the globe freely. Whereas Prince Ahmad bears certain orientalizing markers of its time – particularly in the designs of some of its characters – it synthesizes a wide range of design motifs in a quite remarkable way, and should prove all the more inviting as the projection is free.


Friday August 19
Detroit Puppet Company Amphitheater

Executed in a hybrid style using stop-motion, elaborate costumes and life-size puppets, Czech master Jan Švankmajer offers his take on Faust a sort of extension of what history has always been. With its titular scholar attempting the slippery task of negotiating with the devil, its efforts often turn upside down in ways that are as startling and disturbing in their renderings as they are richly existential in emotional effect. A truly free work by its shift between theatrical staging, gloomy realism and alternately floating and discordant forms of fictional reality, Faust can sometimes be dizzying and overwhelming work – but experience is worth more than time.

puppet shorts

Friday August 26
Detroit Puppet Company Amphitheater

A series of seven international shorts, including Quay Brothers’ immortal and influential “Street of Crocodiles” and Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña’s equally macabre stop-motion “The Bones” (produced by Hereditaryby Ari Aster), the range of works and subjects featured in the showcase demonstrates the scope of puppet-centric work beyond fanciful flights. Covering subjects as varied as death and the afterlife, from Black Panther activism (“The Puppet Show” from the 1970s, from May 1st Media) to Japanese folklore (“The Demon” from Kihachirō Kawamoto from 1972 ), the showcase reflects the same aspirations, range and mature sensibility of the series as a whole.

The great animal race of the zodiac by Tom Lee

Saturday August 27
Detroit Cinema

A live-streamed performance by New York-based, Korean-born director and puppeteer Tom Lee (and therefore unavailable prior to filing), Great Zodiac works with materials from the artist’s past to tell a traditional tale. The screening aims to offer a chance to appreciate the artist’s work on a scale that is sure to flatter, using a menagerie of shadow puppets and accomplished artistry to make old story new.

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