In Person: Filmmaker Chris Sullivan
FILM CONTAINS MATURE THEMES. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
• “Critic’s Pick. Entirely original . . . an inquiry into the darkest zones of the human heart . . . Weaves a complicated, intoxicating spell . . . a wonder.” —New York Times
• “A sprawling, slithering, stream-of-consciousness tale—a moribund, Rust Belt dreamland. The rare animated feature whose subtext is as rich as its sensuality . . . Consuming Spirits (is) not only a monstrous visual achievement, but one of the most uniquely humanistic animated features of all time.” —Slant
• “There’s a billboard in Chris Sullivan’s animated wonder Consuming Spirits advertising beer that promises 'the taste that haunts the lips.' The same goes for the film. You’ve likely never tasted anything quite like it.” —Chicago Tribune
• “Recommended! An emotionally raw, thoroughly original film, a labor of painstaking love 15 years in the making . . . a haunted reverie . . . of ugliness shot through with moments of unexpected beauty” —NPR
• “Must-see! It’s like Todd Solondz went to town with scissors.” —DailyCandy
Painstakingly created over the course of 15 years, Chris Sullivan’s debut animated feature is an absolute marvel to behold. Sullivan employs multiplane cutouts, drawings on paper, and stop motion (all shot on 16mm) to weave a psychologically dense chronicle of a crumbling Rust Belt town and the intermingled lives of three lonely souls who work at its newspaper.
Unfolding like a vision quest from the mind of a memory-haunted insomniac, it tenderly navigates its ugly characters down twisted paths upon which their pasts, fears, and longings converge. This is a totally singular and eerie landscape, dotted with ghost-ridden farmhouses, midnight car accidents, late-night radio broadcasts and the world’s oldest cat. Painted with frequent strokes of unexpected humor and rendered with a beautifully rough hewn craft emphasizing its characters’ fragility, it emerges as a quiet feature-length epic unlike anything you’ve ever seen: adult, complex, and brimming with the irrepressible spirit of American independent filmmaking.
Raised in Pittsburgh, Chris Sullivan teaches animation and experimental narrative at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. He has been creating films and performance work for the last 30 years. Consuming Spirits was funded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. It was instrumental in Sullivan being awarded a coveted 2012 Creative Capital Grant.
Community partner: Houston Cinema Arts Society