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Screenwriter and film historian Nannina Gilder will introduce “Silhouette Animation: The Genius of Lotte Reiniger” on Tuesday, September 22 at 4:00 pm. Her presentation is part of Ventfort Hall’s summer 2020 series of Tuesday Talks.
Reiniger (1899 – 1981) was a German film director who is considered the foremost pioneer of silhouette animation, a life-long specialty of hers. As a child, she was fascinated with the Chinese arts of paper cutting of silhouette puppetry. Later, she enrolled in the Theatre of Max Reinhardt where she worked making costumes and props – and creating silhouette portraits of actors within the troupe. Soon she was making elaborate title cards for silent films, many of which included her silhouettes.
In 1918, Reiniger created animated intertitles for The Pied Piper of Hamelin, a film directed by Paul Wegener. With that success she was admitted into the Institute for Cultural Research, an experimental animation and short film studio. Over the next few years, she made several short, animated films.
She was asked in 1923 to create a feature-length animated film, an unusual request at the time. The result was The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a project that took three years to produce. During that time Reiniger who with her staff, crafted thousands of cut-outs of intricate silhouettes. For each frame, the cut-outs, made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead, were manipulated by hand and then shot by camera operated by her husband, Carl Koch. Twenty-four frames were needed for each second. The final result was nicknamed a Shadow Show, a recognized art form, of which Reiniger is considered the inventor.
Earlier this year Gilder hosted at Ventfort Hall a four-part Women in Film Seminar titled “Invisible: Female Filmmakers Before 1960.” She introduced The Adventures of Prince Achmed at the seminar.
A former film curator for the Little Cinema at The Berkshire Museum, Gilder will introduce us to other unique films from Reiniger’s more than 40 works, including Cinderella (1922); The Stolen Heart (1934); Papageno (1935), with background music from Mozart’s The Magic Flute; The Golden Goose (1944), her one film produced in Nazi Germany; Mary’s Birthday (1951), made while living in England, and one or two others she made toward the end of her life.
Gilder has appeared on the film podcast CitizenDame. Her play “The Curious Abduction of Mona Lisa” was performed at Ventfort Hall in 2013.
Tickets for Gilder’s presentation whether in attendance at Ventfort Hall or by viewing through Zoom are $20 per person. Advance reservations are required in either case. To view on Zoom register at https://ventfort09222020.eventbrite.com
For reservations to attend at Ventfort Hall call us at 413-637-3206. The museum’s traditional Victorian Teas cannot be served until further notice due to the coronavirus.
The Summer 2020 series of Tuesday Talks are sponsored by Ventfort Hall board member Lucille Landa and William Landa.