Out of the Box

Unima South Africa’s annual Out The Box Festival of Puppetry and Visual Performance, set to run from 3 to 11 September in Cape Town, is a nine-day multidisciplinary event celebrating innovation, diversity and sustainability. The festival provides a platform for performing and visual artists to collaborate, push boundaries and blur the lines of their disciplines to create provocative and groundbreaking work. This year’s event will be the sixth edition of Out The Box and promises to be the largest festival of puppetry and visual theatre in Africa, attracting artists from all over the world.

The festival will take place at the Little Theatre Complex in Gardens, the Labia Cinema, Iziko National Gallery, Fire & Ice Hotel, Magnet Theatre and Theatre Arts Admin Collective.

Film festival

Out of the Box’s Moving Things film festival showcases some of the best puppetry and stop-frame films, while providing a platform for new artists in the field of stop frame animation, using puppetry or 3-dimensional objects in creative new media projects.

This year's festival will again showcase a new collection of provocative short films curated by Heather Henson, daughter of Jim Henson of the Muppets. Two Aardman collections will celebrate the weird and wonderful animation of this wildly creative studio. The latest in the cutting-edge political satire that is ZANews news will be presented, as well as a look into the genius behind Handspring Puppet Company's War Horse. A collection of short films for connoisseurs features local film-makers, and as well as a mini retrospective of early films by Czech legend Jan Svankmajer.

Local and international talent is brought together in a collection of short films for the whole family, many of which are being shown for the first time.  A feature-length documentary by David Soll, Puppet, is a fascinating journey that interweaves the fraught history of American puppetry with an intimate thread following the creation of a complex puppet work, while The Emotional Life of Inanimate Objects showcases the evocative experimental films from the internationally recognized experimental filmmaker and visual and performance artist Janie Geiser.

A number of exciting film workshops will run concurrently with the festival.  Facilitated by experts in the field, they will focus on stop-motion, puppetry and pixelation and will suit participants of varying ages and levels of experience.

PuppetPuppet by David Soll

Puppet is a feature-length documentary that interweaves a broad look at the fraught history of American puppetry, its marginalisation as children’s theater and its sudden explosion as high art) with an intimate thread following Dan Hurlin, a downtown artist who is creating a complex puppet work about an eccentric, Depression-era photographer. Dan has just recovered from a scorching New York Times review, which forced his last show out of theatres prematurely. Now he faces a wider backlash against puppetry, suggesting an eerie parallel between himself and his new puppet-subject – a portrait photographer whose stunning body of work was nearly lost forever.

inanimateThe Emotional Life of Inanimate Objects by Janie Geiser

This programme of short experimental films from the past 10 years will use found figures and objects, collage elements and rephotography.

Janie Geiser is an internationally recognised visual and performance artist and experimental filmmaker, whose work is known for its investigation of the emotional power of inanimate objects, its sense of ambiguity, and its strength of design. One of the pioneers in the renaissance of American avant-garde object performance, Geiser has, for two decades, created innovative, hypnotic works which integrate puppets and performing objects with film and video. “Geiser shares with filmmakers such as Jan Svankmajer the rare ability to make children’s toys and seemingly innocent objects … resonate with the most unsettling, arcane, and adult fears. Better still, Geiser gives voice to the reaches of the unconscious, pointing to the abandoned splendour that exists prior to the rules of society and language.” (Holly Willis, Res, 2004) She was recognized in the LA Weekly’s 2006 State of the Arts as one of 100 significant Los Angeles Artists.

Handmade Puppet Dreams volume 4 – IBEX Films

An intriguing collection of puppet film shorts created by independent artists exploring their handmade craft specifically for the camera. It is their mission to inspire audiences in the art of puppetry and film, as well as create opportunities for dramatizing, creating and exploring aesthetically sophisticated puppetry.

IBEX Inc., a small entertainment company dedicated to promoting the fine art of puppetry in various mediums, founded by Heather Henson. Nurturing work for a myriad of venues including film, stage, and exhibit. Handmade Puppet Dreams is a touring series of puppet film shorts, that features a collection of independent artists exploring their puppet craft specifically for the camera.

handspringHandspring Puppet Company – A Celebration

Out of the Box celebrates Handspring’s achievements with a selection of short films:

  • TED Talk entitled “The Genius Puppetry Behind War Horse”
  • “Making War Horse” – a National Theatre production about the show. Directed by David Bickerstaff and Phil Grabsky
  • A recently completed documentary film “Making War Horses” about the making of War Horse, focusing more on the puppetry making. Directed by Clifford Bestall

ZANewsZANews – Let’s Get it On!

From Julius Malema’s inane ramblings to Jacob Zuma’s soothsaying to Helen Zille’s calculated tirades, ZANews captures the strange, rainbow-coloured wilderness of South African politics in our own quirky, latexed fashion. With puppets designed by renowned satirical cartoonist Zapiro, ZANews offers a scathing yet side-splitting take on the local milieu of South African life. No one is safe, but everyone is welcome.

Includes the Chicken to Change hit music video.

Aardman’s Darkside Compilation

A weird and wonderful compilation of animation from the ‘darker side’ of Aardman, including episodes from A Town Called Panic, The Adventures of Jeffrey, Rex the Runt, Angry Kid and other short films.

Aardman’s Special Mix

Featuring episodes of Aardman Animations’ Shaun the Sheep, Purple and Brown and Creature Comforts.

Short films for connoisseurs

An eclectic collection of films from talented local filmmakers as well as some international gems, including a special retrospective of rare early films by the great Jan Svankmajer.

Short films for everyone

An entertaining and quirky selection of films guaranteed to get you giggling and hungry for more.

People’s Choice

The best of the fest – we re-screen films you’ve voted for and give you a chance to see things you may have missed.

For more information on the Moving Things Film Festival and the Out The Box Festival visit www.outtheboxfestival.com

Film workshops

This year Out of the Box offers five film workshops to satisfy stop-motion filmmakers.

Stop-Frame Animation Workshop (Moving Hands)

A hands-on workshop where you will make a short film using a combination of techniques, such as claymation (plasticine), pixilation or puppetry.

  • Ages: 14 to 18
  • Duration: 2 half days and 2 full days
  • When: Friday 2 September to Monday 5 September
  • Cost: R350

The ABCs of Animation and Storytelling (Jeremy Puren)

A physical and engaging workshop where you will capture your movements and moving objects to create a short film.

  • Ages: 7 to 11
  • Duration: 2 half days and 2 full days
  • When: Friday 2 September to Monday 5 September
  • Cost: R600

Hand-Drawn Animation Workshop (Nina Torr)

We will cover the basics and materials needed to create a simple hand-drawn animation on paper following the techniques pioneered in traditional cel animation.

  • Ages: 16+
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • When: Tuesday 6 September at 14h00; Friday 9 September at 10h00
  • Cost: R200

Problem-Solving in Stop-Motion Animation (Nina Torr)

We will cover devices and techniques that make the animation process simpler and more functional – includes optimising your puppets and creating DIY camera equipment.

  • Ages:  16+
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • When: Wednesday 7 September at 10h00; Thursday 8 September at 14h00
  • Cost: R200

Basic Armature Construction on a Budget (Marinda Botha)

  • This workshop gives an introduction to general armature construction and provides an example of one method of construction, keeping your budget in mind.
  • Ages: 16+
  • Duration: 1.5 hours
  • When:  Tuesday 6 September at 10h00; Wednesday 7 September at 14h00; Thursday 8 September at 10h00; Friday 9 September at 14h00
  • Cost: R200

For more information and to apply, contact admin@unimasouthafrica.org