I was an assistant curator for Handmade Puppet Dreams, Volume 4, Heather Henson’s touring live-action puppet film series which began screening on December 6th, 2009 at Theater For the New City as part of Voice4Vision, a puppet festival. While the volume contained all diffrent kinds of puppetry styles, I was especially interested in selecting puppet shorts that involved music. Volume 4 has been screened in Cape Town South Africa, Calgary, Alberta, San Diego, CA, Conway, AR, Providence, RI, North Bethesda, MD, Orlando FL, Atlanta, GA, New York, NY, Waterford, CT, and Portland ME.
Handmade Puppet Dreams Volume 4 included the following films:
The Whole World And You, Frankie Cordero (2:54)
In this official music video for Tally Hall, we travel into a microcosmic box of wonders populated by miniature automata, where a charming candidate running for the country’s highest office. The candidate enjoys the popularity that accompanies his high‐profile lifestyle, but one lone gunman is not so easily charmed. Frankie Cordero is originally from Chicago and has performed with Hystopolis, Lone Wolf Tribe, and Blair Thomas & Co. His work has appeared in television on Sesame Street, Oobi, and Jack’s Big Music Show.
A Dog Goes from Here to There, Carl Knickerbocker (5:50)
Film becomes painting when Suburban Primitive artist, Carl Knickerbocker transforms his children’s picture book into puppet cinema. Knickerbocker has a robust art exhibition history, was selected for the U.S. Art in Embassies program, and has been awarded state and local art grants. His paintings are in collections world-wide, but look for Carl going from here to there in Central Florida driving his Element of Surprise art car. A Dog Goes from Here to There is a colorful, quirky concoction of canine transportation which asks the question, “How do you go from here to there?”
Maika: Desert Gold, Rob Saunders (4:22)
Puppets journey across the desert looking for pleasure in this music video for Norwegian band, Maika. Rob Saunders is an Los Angeles-based puppeteer and director whose work has appeared in Spiderman 2, Team America and Beck’s international tour. He continues to focus on innovative filmmaking, using live puppetry, stop-motion and computer animation
Bottle Stopper, Martin P. Robinson (8:48)
Everybody collects something. Martin collects carved wooden bottlestoppers from Val Gardena, Italy circa 1930s. He has built a bar for them filled with usual customers. Life is good until something happens to break their reality. Marty has worked for the Jim Henson Company and has appeared in Allegra’s Window and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He originally built, designed, and performed puppets for Little Shop of Horrors and is best known for his work on Sesame Street, where he trains puppeteers.
Space Kittys in Japan, Anney Fresh (1:22)
Space Kittys have come to Earth to play with you! Killer, Katso, Katchoop and Peenk explore our world in this public art project, while sharing their love of dancing and skateboarding. Anney Fresh is a creator and New York-based performer of costumes and puppets. Annie won two Daytime Emmy Awards for costume design/styling for her work on Sesame Street.
Senior Huesos: Poker Chips and Salsa, Jerrold Ridenour (3:00)
A skeleton and a piñata try to stop an evil salsa trade before all the salsa is pumped from the Calexican desert in this Spaghetti-O Western. Jerrold lives in Los Angeles and has directed Ahoy Captain Sid (which won an Emmy for editing), and live action scenes for several episodes of Bob the Builder. He also served as Director of Photography for Callalilly.
Callalily, Christy Kane (8:01)
In the beautiful yet slightly dark world of the Sisters Kane, where only dolls exist, Callalilly longs to play the piano perfectly. But her inability to be ‘instantly great’ sends her into a fit. Directed by Stephen Chiodo, Callalilly is a short film with a moral, based on Christy Kane’s Book, Tales of the Sisters Kane. Kane is an artist, photographer, musician and clothing designer based in New Orleans.
Sprout, Jeanne Stern (4:59)
In Sprout, a kitchen sink overflows and the sprouting begins.
Mister Pink & Horsy, Leat Klingman (6:05)
In this story about companionship and longing, Horsy and his cowboy go for a ride on the beach, rest and take a nap. Horsy awakes – he senses an arrival – and sees a fuzzy pink creature: Mister Pink. They get acquainted, sniff each other, and go for a run. Mister Pink leaps up; Horsy tries too, but falls. Mister Pink offers to take Horsy to fly and up they go! After landing, they part. Horsy goes back to cowboy, pondering, was it a dream or reality?
Omar’s Mother, Paul Andrejco (9:19)
A boy and his mother discover a worm that brings them closer together. Paul Andrejco is an Emmy nominated puppet designer and proprietor of Puppet Heap in Hoboken. He has worked for Disney, The Jim Henson Company and Shadow Projects.
Richard Mansfield (5:49)
Konrad is a bright young boy, kind of heart and full of joy but…he has a terrible addiction that can only end in one painful and bloody way! See him SUCK! See his Mother SCREAM! See the terrible scissors go SNIP-SNAP! Filmed in terrifying 2D Shad-O-Vision. Not for the faint hearted.
Maggie The GPS, Matt Gourley (5:00)
Maggie the GPS is the world’s only navigation system to feature guaranteed roadside assistance and the jealous rage of any human woman within 25 cubic miles.
Honey Honey, Anthony Seck (3:50)
Here is a seafaring tale about a ﬁsherman’s obsession for the big catch, God’s hand in fate, and the heartbreak of lost love.
Nani, a patchwork girl, chases a falling star and meets Shojun, a tortoise ﬁsherman and warrior. Together, they journey through his surreal, fantastic world to the star’s mountain resting place to discover its secrets. From turbulent oceans to mysterious nether spaces, Yamasong is a Japanese-style puppet experience placed in computer-generated worlds.
The Fox, The Crow & The Cookie, Amy Carrigan and Davide Bell (4:41)*
Philadelphia rock band, mewithoutYou provides the soundtrack for an age old fable turned music video set in a whimsical cardboard world filled with bedazzled treats. Amy is a singer and theatre artist from New York who works on a range of projects from opera-dance to music-theater. David is a New York based sculptor and animator who works with puppets and miniatures.
*Note: There has been some reshuffling of the volumes since I worked on them and this film is no longer in Volume 4.
Handmade Puppet Dreams, Volume 4 was screened at:
- Out of the Box Festival (Cape Town, South Africa)
- International Festival of Animated Objects (Calgary, AB)
- Museum of Photographic Arts (San Diego, CA)
- University of Central Arkansas (Conway, AR)
- Rhode Island School of Design, First Works Festival (Providence, RI)
- Puppets Take Strathmore (North Bethesda, MD)
- Orlando Film Festival (Orlando, FL)
- Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
- Voice for Vision Festival, Theater for the New City (New York, NY)
- Eugene O’Neill Theater Center (Waterford, CT)
- Mayo Street Arts (Portland, ME)
Heather Henson’s touring festival of short puppet films, offers new editions annually. Handmade Puppet Dreams showcases the fresh voices of independent puppeteers who embrace film to explore a spectrum of live-action puppetry styles.
Ibex Puppetry is an entertainment company dedicated to promoting the fine art of puppetry in all of its mediums. Founded in 2000 and receiving multiple UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionette) awards, Ibex Puppetry supports puppet art in the mediums of film, stage, gallery exhibits, workshops and artist presentations.