Walker Art Center

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Filmmakers in Conversation: Chris Sullivan’s Consuming Spirits

“Shot frame-by-frame using models, multiplane paper cutouts and traditional pencil-drawn cartoons—sometimes in the same scene—this labor of love from do-it-all animator Chris Sullivan has the same rough-edged, cantankerous charms as the characters that populate it.” —Variety

Join us for a special screening of Consuming Spirits with director Chris Sullivan in the Walker Cinema.

Sullivan’s 15-year project is an animated feature unlike anything you have ever seen, bursting at the seams with Gothic surrealism and fastidious attention to detail. With large doses of wry humor and macabre ambiance, Consuming Spirits untangles a thorny story of familial bonds.

The film embraces absurdity—as proven by the newspaper headline from which it pulls its title (“Consuming spirits main motivation for bar crowd, followed by loneliness then cable sports”)—but it also has a keen sense of tempered yet sincere sentiment. In the small town dregs somewhere between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, a trio of misfits vies for the narrative pull: Gentian Violet, bus driver, layout designer at the newspaper, and occasional musician; Victor Blue, newspaper photo specialist who drowns his sorrows in a bottle; and Earl Gray, smooth-talking radio host full of poetic but dark soliloquies.

The outliers of Consuming Spirits come to life with distinct animation made up of line drawings, photos, cutouts, and miniatures both beautifully raw and disarmingly exquisite. Faces, figures, and landscapes are distorted in unique style under Sullivan’s hand, woven into an unpredictable tale of human imperfection and resilience.

An alumnus of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Sullivan currently teaches animation and experimental narrative at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has been creating films and performance work for the past 30 years, and serves not only as animator, writer, and director on Consuming Spirits, but also voice actor and musician. Sullivan’s films have shown internationally and he has received funding from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. 2012, DCP, 136 minutes.

Related Event

The Art of Animation
Saturday, February 9, 1 pm
Join Chris Sullivan and local animators John Akre, Tom Schroeder, and Scott Wenner in the Walker Cinema for a free panel discussion. Seats are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. This program is part of IFP MN’s Professional Development Series. For more information, visit the IFP MN event calendar.


Filmmakers in Conversation is made possible by generous support from Michelle and Bill Pohlad.