Image from the motion picture short The Peanut Vendor

Peculiar Puppets - 16mm

Animation, Experimental | 1920's-1950's | 90MIN

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Puppets have been entertaining us since ancient times. As filmmaking finally grew into a popular and profitable medium in the early 20th century and beyond, puppetry only seemed to enjoy a sort of new and different resurgence. All sorts of creative and artistic types soon looked to the motion picture camera as another means of entertaining fellow humans with, you guessed it—puppets! Some filmmakers chose to create stop-motion films in which puppets seemed to live and move on their own, while others made live action films of marionette and hand puppet performances as well. This practice skyrocketed even further for a time, when early television producers needed quick and easy entertainment for children during live kiddie show programs. Again, we looked to puppets for help.

This 90-minute film program features a wide sampling of both charming and bizarre puppet films from the 1920s, through the 1950s. We’ll enjoy examples of stop-motion films as well as live puppet performances created for several different subgenres of whimsically surreal entertainment that was neither completely realistic, nor completely illustrated either. You may even find some of the offerings to be rather creepy and bizarre! These archival prints will be provided by animation archivist and historian Tommy José Stathes, and are hand-selected from his personal 16mm film archive. Film program will be followed by a live Q&A session.

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