FREE FILM SCREENING: “The Films of Ladislav Starevic”
Monday, February 22nd, 8:00pm
**FREE** (including free popcorn and snacks)

Continuing Sugar City’s ongoing monthly series of classic cinema screenings, there will be a FREE screening of short films by Ladislav Starevic, the Russian animator and independent filmmaker who pioneered stop-motion puppet animation, on Monday February 22 at 8pm. Sugar City will be screening a selection of four of Starevic’s best films, almost all of which are unavailable in the U.S. and rarely if ever screened, including his most famous work “The Camerman’s Revenge” and a rarely-seen uncut version of “The Mascot”. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to enter the strange and wonderful world of one of the great masters of animation!

Although he remains a hugely important filmmaker due to his invention of stop-motion puppet animation 100 years ago, Starevic’s work would be notable no matter when it was made due to his bizarre and fantastically unique vision. Although ostensibly for children, Starevic’s weird and wonderful films exhibit a sensibility more in tune with the dark minds of Tim Burton or Edward Gorey than with other children’s films of his era (or any era). For starters, Starevic is notorious for using the actual dead bodies of insects, frogs, and other animals as the puppets in his films, giving them more than a twinge of the strange and bizarre. At the same time, like the best fables of Aesop and Grimm, the stories he told with his grotesque menagerie of puppets often had disturbingly adult themes lurking just below the surface.

“The Cameraman’s Revenge”, for example, follows the story of an adulterous beetle who spends his ‘business trips’ in a creepy insect burlesque house. “The Mascot” (aka “The Devil’s Ball”) is certainly the strangest film in Starevic’s strange body of work, telling the story of an adorable stuffed animal who comes to life, only to run into the Devil himself and become trapped in an unforgettably weird carnival of demons that makes fare like “The Corpse Bride” seem like an episode of Sesame Street. After seeing the rare, complete version that will be presented at Sugar City, it will be no mystery why Terry Gilliam (director of “Brazil”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, and “The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus”) named “The Mascot” as one of his favorite films of all time.

For fans of recent films like “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Coraline”, or “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, the strange and beautiful films of Ladislav Starevic are a must-see. Among the other pioneers of early cinema like Lumiere and Melies, Starevic’s name has been unfairly forgotten, due mostly to the general unavailability of his films in the West. But all it takes is one look at any of Starevic’s work to understand how far-reaching his influence remains, even 100 years later.

Artvoice Review