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Considering the Quays

The Quay Brothers are two of the world’s most original filmmakers. The identical twins studied illustration in Philadelphia before going on to the Royal College of Art in London, where they made animated shorts in the 1970s. Influenced by a tradition of Eastern European animation, the Quays display a passion for detail, a breathtaking command of color and texture, and an uncanny use of focus and camera movement that make their films unique and instantly recognizable. The exhibition Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets is on view at The Museum of Modern Art in New York through January 7, 2013.

"Commentators have suggested that the Quay Brothers channel the art of Edvard Munch, Francis Bacon, and Joseph Cornell, share the cinematic temperament of contemporary filmmakers like David Lynch and Guy Maddin, and demonstrate a talent for both animation and live-action that is comparable to that of the surrealist Czech director Jan Svankmajer and mainstream moviemaker Tim Burton." - Glenn D. Lowry, Director, The Museum of Modern Art

Special thanks to Edward Waisnis, the liaison for the Quay Brothers regarding the MoMA exhibition, and Benjamin Crossley-Marra of Zeitgeist Films. 

Past Films in This Series


Institute Benjamenta

Directed by Stephen and Timothy Quay
The Quay Brothers’ first feature, Institute Benjamenta, is an exquisitely realized anti-fairytale as unique and astonishing as their celebrated animations. Jakob (Mark Rylance) enrolls at the titular institute—a dilapidated, moribund boarding school for the training of servants—and becomes embroiled in the strangely hypnotic world of the enigmatic siblings at its helm. Inspired by the writings of Swiss author Robert Walser, Institute Benjamenta also boasts a stellar art-house cast, including Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact) and Fassbinder regular Gottfried John ... more info

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes

Directed by Stephen and Timothy Quay
On the eve of her wedding, the beautiful opera singer Malvina (Amira Casar) is mysteriously killed and abducted by a malevolent Dr. Droz (Gottfried John). Felisberto, an innocent piano tuner, is summoned to Droz’s secluded villa to service his strange musical automatons. Little by little Felisberto learns of the doctor’s plans to stage a “diabolical opera” and of Malvina’s fate. He secretly conspires to rescue her, only to become trapped himself in the web of Droz’s perverse universe. Also starring ... more info

Through the Weeping Glass (and other shorts)

Directed by Stephen and Timothy Quay
This program features the Quays’ latest short film, the complementary “making-of” documentary by Edward Waisnis, and an evocative other rarely screened recent short. Through The Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting (Limbos and Afterbreezes in the Mütter Museum) (2011, 31 min.). A hybrid documentary on the collections of books, instruments, and medical anomalies at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum located there. This short film represents the first to be made by the internationally ... more info