Joanna Priestley & Zoe Beloff Movies: REDCAT Screenings

Joanna Priestley



Joanna Priestley: Fighting Gravity

Mon Apr 20 | 8:30 pm
Jack H. Skirball Series
$9 [students $7, CalArts $5]

Los Angeles premiere

Joanna PriestleyDubbed “the queen of independent animation” by Bill Plympton, Joanna Priestley unveils her new short Missed Aches, a humorous rant about the need for proofreading. This can't-miss program for animation buffs also includes a series of animated gems representing the range of the artist's techniques: Voices, Grown Up, All My Relations, Streetcar Named Perspire, Utopia Parkway, Candyjam, She-Bop, Pro and Con, and Dew Line. Mentored by Jules Engel at CalArts, Priestley had previously made 19 award-winning films about subjects as varied as relationships, plants, magic, menopause, abstraction and prison. Retrospectives of her work have been presented at The Museum of Modern Art, the Walker Art Center, and American Cinematheque, among other venues.

In person: Joanna Priestley
“The exquisite animated world of Joanna Priestley has been one of the best-kept secrets of the toon community… Undeniably original and hard to forget.” - Animation Magazine


Missed Aches by Joanna Priestley

Missed Aches (2009, 4 min., DVD or Beta SP, stereo, 1:1.85)
Los Angeles premiere
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Written and narrated by Taylor Mali. Sound Design by Normand Roger and Pierre Yves Drapeau. Music by Pierre Yves Drapeau with Denis Chartrand and Normand Roger. Text Animation by Brian Kinkley. Character design by Don Flores. Storyboards by Dan Schaeffer. Supported by The Regional Arts and Culture Council and the Caldera Institute.

Missed Aches is about the need for proofreading and the indiscriminate use of spell chuck.  It incriminates character animation with moving text. Missed Aches was written and narrated by Taylor Mali, four time winner of the National Poetry Slam (USA).

Streetcar Named Perspire (2007, 6.5 minutes, computer animation) Directed and produced by Joanna Priestley. Sound designed and produced by Lance Limbocker. Animation by Pascal Campion and Joanna Priestley. Voices by Victoria Parker Pohl and Paul Harrod.

“Priestley's animated roller coaster ride both previews and celebrates- depending on your age- one of life's most thrill-filled experiences.”
-Heike Kuehn, Northwest Film and Video Festival

Dew Line (2005, 4.5 minutes, 2D computer animation)
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Sound designed and produced by Jamie Haggerty. Edited by Jamie Haggerty. Supported by a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

“Priestley's playful eye takes us on a tour through the cycle of life and death as cells split apart, regenerate and dance a microbiological twist.” -Sam Green, San Francisco University

Utopia Parkway (1997, 5 minutes, drawings on paper. replacement  animation)
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Sound design and music by Jaime Haggerty. Art director: Paul Harrod.  Directors of photography: Charles Rehwalt (box unit) and David Trappe (bottle unit).  Edited by Chris Willging and Joanna Priestley.  3-D animators: C. Bourdette, B. Bruce, T. Drilling, C. Duke, J. Gratz, M. Gustavson, J. Poulot and J. Priestley.  

Utopia Parkway was inspired by the box sculptures of Joseph Cornell, who lived in the same house on Utopia Parkway in Queens, New York, nearly all of his life.

Grown Up (1993, 7 minutes, drawings on paper, pixillated hands and object animation)
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Sound produced by Lance Limbocker. Written by Barbara Carnegie and Joanna Priestley.  Music by Steve Christopherson and Warren Rand.  Props by Paul Harrod.  

“Everybody from Germaine Greer to Gloria Steinem to Betty Friedan is writing about aging, but what about middle aging? Priestley does a brilliant job of reclaiming 40, and believe me, I have a vested interest in this subject.  An animation that just might make twenty-somethings wish they were older.”  -B. Ruby Rich.

Pro and Con (1993, 9 minutes, 2-D puppets, drawings, object and cel animation and clay painting)  
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley and Joan Gratz. Sound produced by Lance Limbocker and Chel White. Music by Chel White. Narrated by Lt. Janice Inman and Allen Nause.  

Pro and Con is a brief but excellent exploration of the thoughts and emotions of those working and living in our prison system.”   
-Rebecca S. Albitz, Pyramid Film and Video

All My Relations (1990, 5 minutes, drawings on paper with 3-D frames) Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Improvised voices by Victoria Parker and Scott Parker.  Sound by Joanna Priestley.

All My Relations satirizes the pitfalls of romance, from marriage, childbirth and upward mobility to the disintegration of a relationship. The animation is framed by a series of assemblages which emphasize the message implied by its archetypal characters whose dilemmas are familiar to those who have bought into the American Dream.

She-Bop(1988, 8 minutes, drawings and puppet animation)
Directed, produced and animated by Joanna Priestley. Music by Dave Storrs.  Written by Carolyn Myers.  Narration by Carolyn Lochert Curtis. Funding by the National Endowment for the Arts.

A poetic tribute to the dark, feminine side of spirituality.

Candyjam (1988, 7 minutes, drawings, puppets and object animation) Co-produced and co-directed by Joan Gratz.  Music by Dave Storrs. Animated by David Anderson (London), Karen Aqua (Cambridge, MA, USA), Craig Bartlett (Los Angeles), Elizabeth Buttler (Cambridge, MA, USA), Paul Driessen (The Hague, Holland), Tom Gasek (Cambridge, MA, USA), Joan Gratz (Portland, OR, USA), Marv Newland (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Christine Panushka (Valencia, CA, USA) and Joanna Priestley.

Candyjam is a whimsical exploration of confection by ten filmmakers from four countries.

Voices  (1985, 4 minutes, drawings on paper)
Sound by R. Dennis Wiancko. Voice by Joanna Priestley. A humorous exploration of the fears we share: fear of the darkness, of monsters, of aging, of being overweight and of global destruction.

“Priestley gets across a series of personal phobias in a refreshing and humorous fashion. We get a superb, contemporary animated film with salutes to historical cartoon figures scattered throughout. Delightful!”  
– Marv Newland, Northwest Film and Video Festival Juror.

Joanna Priestley studied painting and printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design and at UC Berkeley, where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Honors.  She also attended California Institute of the Arts where she received an MFA Degree and the Louis B. Mayer Award.  Her background includes Coordinator of the Northwest Film and Video Festival, Director of Strictly Cinema, Editor of “The Animator”, Regional Coordinator of the Northwest Film Center, Co-Director and Co-Founder of FILMA: Women's Film Forum and founding President of ASIFA Northwest.

Priestley teaches animation workshops worldwide and she has run an apprenticeship program since 1986. She has served on numerous juries and selection committees, including Stuttgart International Animation Festival, Canadian International Animation Festival, Texas Filmmakers Production Fund, Big Muddy Film Festival and the Annie Awards. Priestley also enjoys medicinal herbalism, gardening and Burning Man.

Her films are available at  and

In Joanna Priestley's beautiful film, each frame is alive with invention, possibility and delight.
– Richard Peña, New York Film Festival

Joanna Priestley is one of the most interesting and adept personal animators and filmmakers. I have enjoyed her work for years and been amazed at how she gets into her own thoughts into the screen in a very elegant and focused way. - Gus Van Sant

Joanna Priestley's amazing body of animated films have deservedly earned their place in the pantheon of contemporary international animators. Inventively visioned, superbly crafted, and rich in insights into the spiritual dilemma that confront us all, each new work provides an unexpected pleasure. - Bill Foster, Director, Northwestern Film Center

The lively and inventive animations of Joanna Priestley are full of joy and unexpected pleasures.– Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive

Curated by Maureen Selwood and Bérénice Reynaud.

Funded in part with generous support from Wendy Keys and Donald Pels.

REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of W. 2nd St. and S. Hope St., inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Tickets may be purchased by calling 213.237.2800 or at or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours: Tue-Sat | noon–6 pm and two hours prior to curtain

Photos: Dennis Wiancko (top photo, Feldman Gallery exhibit of animation artwork from Voices), Greg Kosawa (Joanna Priestley portrait); animation photos courtesy of Joanna Priestley

Shadowland Or Light From The Other Side by Zoe Beloff



Zoe Beloff: Conjuring Specters

Mon Apr 27 | 8:30 pm
Jack H. Skirball Series
$9 [students $7, CalArts $5]

New York artist Zoe Beloff's unique and mesmerizing films are philosophical toys: objects with which to think. Her work has especially borne on “phantoms,” on images that are “not there,” and on a precinematic version of the virtual, created by means of a stereoscopic Bolex camera that produces spectral 3-D images. Shadowland Or Light From The Other Side [above], starring Kate Valk of The Wooster Group, locates a link between Victorian spiritualism and the birth of cinema in late-19th century “Ghost Shows,” where actors interacted with magic lantern slides and stereoscopic views. Charming Augustine is an experimental narrative inspired by one of Charcot's most famous patients at the Salpétrière in turn-of-the-century Paris. It explores connections between photographic documentation of hysteria and the prehistory of narrative film: Augustine captivates the doctors with her theatrical and photogenic hysterical attacks and in the process becomes a star, the “Sarah Bernhardt” of the asylum.

In person: Zoe Beloff

“Beloff exists as the consummate time traveler, floating between the two eras of cine-technology.”
­ Jeffrey Skoller, Shadows, Specters, Shards: Making History in Avant-Garde Film


(2000, 32 min., 3-D 16mm, b/w)

For the better part of a hundred years, moving images have been thought of as a “window onto another world.” Zoe Beloff's films reach further back to an earlier conception of the virtual: the 19th century's magic lantern slides and stereoscopic views, which allowed virtual images to co-exist with real objects in space, rendering the cinematic spectacle an interactive, three-dimensional experience. Shadowland or Light from the Other Side is a three-dimensional 16mm projection with a visually striking vertical aspect ratio. An air of vaudeville pervades the screening event, as viewers don 3D glasses and Beloff projects from within the theater space onto a portable silver screen.

Shadowland or Light from the Other Side traces links between pre-cinematic projections and 19th century spiritualist mediums, who function as mental “projectors,” conjuring specters to interact with the sitters at a séance. The film's title and narrative are taken from the 1897 autobiography of Elizabeth D'Espérance, a materializing medium who could produce full body apparitions.

As the story of D'Espérance (played by Kate Valk of the Wooster Group) unfolds, we discover a lonely little girl who conjures imaginary friends that appear, to her, completely real. This remarkable ability causes her much suffering: upon reaching adolescence, she is pronounced mad because she sees people who are not there. Later in life she finds a way to cultivate her gifts within the spiritualist movement. The film explores how the psychic projections of 19th century mediums like D'Espérance demonstrate a deep cultural ambivalence around the role of women. The female medium was considered an especially suitable conduit to the next world because of her “passive nature.” Yet she produced phantoms that displayed an exhibitionistic sexuality that radically transgressed her Victorian upbringing. The film explores these phantoms as a limit case of the virtual, a three-dimensional representation of psychic reality, and relates their production to another contemporary theatricalization of the unconscious, the performances of Charcot's hysterics.

The phantoms that appear in Shadowland or Light from the Other Side are drawn from magic lantern slides, glass negatives, and scenes from the earliest films of the 1890s. Staged with exquisite detail and photographed in a lustrous black and white, the film's otherworldly apparitions haunt and fascinate the audience.


Charming Augustine by Zoe Beloff

CHARMING AUGUSTINE ([above] 2004, 40 min., 3-D 16mm film, b/w) is an experimental narrative based on the real case of a fifteen-year-old patient, Augustine, admitted to the famous Salpétrière insane asylum in Paris in the 1880's and diagnosed with hysterical paralysis. The doctors were captivated by her frequent hysterical attacks, which were extraordinarily theatrical and photogenic. Augustine became the “Sarah Bernhardt” of the asylum, documented in a series of photographs and texts published as Iconograhie photographique de la Salpétrière.

Charming Augustine explores connections between the doctor's attempts to document Augustine's mental states and the prehistory of narrative film. Working with cameras similar to those used in the motion studies of Marey and Muybridge, the doctors aimed to unlock the secrets of their patients' minds by studying the mechanics of their bodies. The film demonstrates how patients like Augustine supplied the psychic drive that would come to flower in the works of D.W. Griffith. Charming Augustine appears at first as a straightforward medical document, then begins to reflect Augustine's interior perceptions and hallucinations. Finally, Augustine becomes “disenchanted,” both in the contemporary sense of that word and in its original meaning of being awakened from a magnetic sleep or hypnotic trance.

By filming in a stereoscopic format, with a vertical aspect ratio that resembles a gaze through a doorway rather than the window of most cinema screens, Beloff conjures up a time just prior to the invention of cinema, suggesting a different direction that cinema might have taken had it been invented in the 1880's. Charming Augustine conveys a fragile, spectral “what if…,” a moment in time when the moving image was on the brink of existence in a form not yet standardized.


Zoe Beloff grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1980 she moved to New York to study at Columbia University where she received an MFA in Film. Her work has been exhibited in museums, cinemas and galleries internationally, including MoMA, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Rotterdam Film festival, and Pacific Film Archives, and the 1997 and 2002 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennials. Her interactive works are in the collections of the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art Helsinki and the Pompidou Center in Paris. She is represented by the Bellwether Gallery in New York.

Beloff is engaged in re-invigorating technologies such as stereoscopic imagery and dioramas that have largely been abandoned since the invention of the cinema. Sometimes she uses archaic apparatuses, sometimes, new analog/digital hybrids. She works with film, live 3-D projection performance, interactive cinema on CD-ROM and video installation. She would like to think of herself as an heir to the 19th century mediums whose materialization séances conjured up unconscious desires, in the most theatrical fashion. Though lacking psychic abilities she confesses to relying on cinematic illusionism or one could say the cinematic “medium.” Each project aims to connect the present with the past, to create new visual languages where modern media will once again be invested with the uncanny. She is currently working on an exhibition: The Coney Island Amateur Psychoanalytic Society and their Circle. The show will open in the summer of 2009 to celebrate the centennial of Freud's visit to Coney Island.

Beloff has collaborated with artists from other disciplines. In 1994 she created Life Underwater with composer John Cale, a live show performed at St. Ann's that brought together film, 3-D slides, music and the spoken word. In 1996 the Wooster Group Theater invited her to make her CD-ROM Where Where There There Where, in conjunction with their play House Lights. Composer, singer and performance artist Shelley Hirsch created the score for her installation, The Somnambulists. Zoe has been awarded fellowships from Guggenheim Foundation (2003), The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts (1997) and NYFA (1997, 2001). She has received individual artist grants from foundations that include NYSCA (1996, 2001, 2004, 2009), The Jerome Foundation (1998, 2000), and Experimental Television Center Finishing Funds Award (1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007). She has had residences at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts, Hallwalls in Buffalo and Tesla in Berlin.

Program curated by Adele Horne.

Funded in part with generous support from Wendy Keys and Donald Pels.

REDCAT is located in downtown Los Angeles at the corner of W. 2nd St. and S. Hope St., inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex. Tickets may be purchased by calling 213.237.2800 or at or in person at the REDCAT Box Office on the corner of 2nd and Hope Streets (30 minutes free parking with validation). Box Office Hours: Tue-Sat | noon–6 pm and two hours prior to curtain

Joanna Priestley & Zoe Beloff Movies: REDCAT Screenings © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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1 Comment to Joanna Priestley & Zoe Beloff Movies: REDCAT Screenings

  1. Sally Jones


    Final Deadline – May 8, 2009

    13th LA Shorts Fest July 23-30, 2009 the largest short film festival in the world. Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences accredited. In past years, 33 participants have earned Academy Award nominations including 11 Oscar winning short films! The festival annually attracts more than 10,000 moviegoers, filmmakers and entertainment professionals looking for the hottest new talent. We have honored some of Hollywood's legends of the past: Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Robert Wise; along with actors Martin Landau, James Woods, Gary Oldman and directors Tim Burton, Bryan Singer, Jan de Bont, Paul Haggis and Shane Black.

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