Puppets on Film Festival 2013
Can puppets and film meld convincingly? Can you transfer the texture and life of puppetry onto the silver screen? The Puppets on Film Festival this April will provide a platform for the puppeteers and filmmakers who are exploring this territory. There will be screenings of old and new films for adults and children, including features, shorts and documentaries.
A pilot film festival in 2011 saw the judges award Best Puppet Short to joint winners, acknowledging two different directions taken – puppet animation and live-action puppetry. This year we will concentrate on live-action puppet films, or puppets filmed in real time. Although new tools in post-production allow artists to change the image (rods and strings can be "rubbed out", puppets can be placed into animated situations), the basic puppetry featured during this year's festival will be live.
Heather Henson’s company Handmade Puppet Dreams is dedicated to live puppetry films and we will show two selections from their collection – one for adults, one for children. With support from the Henson Foundation, Cheryl Henson will present a special screening of Jim Henson’s ‘The Dark Crystal’. Designer Brian Froud will join her for a Q&A. Pairing up with the nearby Everyman Screen on the Green for this event means we can show the film in all its 35mm glory. We can also offer more seats!
Other festival highlights include the UK premiere of ‘Puppet’, a beautifully made documentary following puppeteer Dan Hurlin as he develops a new puppet play, from first inklings to nail-biting opening in New York. We're delighted to welcome Dan Hurlin over as a guest to present the film. There is also the rare opportunity to see the great adventure puppet film ‘Strings’. It had huge input from UK puppeteers, and Stephen Mottram and Geoff Felix will be there to discuss their challenging work on set.
You can also catch ‘Being Elmo’, along with the original and (some say) best ‘The Muppet Movie’. Three international films about puppeteers will show in a cluster – 'The Story of Fenist' (Russia), 'Born Again' (India) and 'The Puppeteer and the Inventor' (Holland). We also have two Czech films in the festival. ‘Kooky’ is a film for families with (slightly older) children about a lost teddy bear trying to get back to his devoted owner. We couldn’t show a Svankmayer feature (I hope one day we can screen ‘Faust’ or ‘Little Otik’), but the BFI thankfully can provide us with his fantastic 10 minute wonder ‘Punch and Judy’.
On Puppet Shorts Night we will screen our selection from an open call earlier this year. The evening is designed for puppeteers and filmmakers, and anyone else curious to see what kinds of puppet films are being made at the moment. The judges (Dan Hurlin, Cheryl Henson, Pete Glanville and Louise Radinger) will select the Best Puppet Short at the end of the night. The audience also has the chance to vote for their favourite – in 2011 this was not the same choice!
Louise Radinger is curator of the Puppets on Film Festival