‘Disfarmer’ by Dan Hurlin

It seems that puppets are further crossing the threshold of reality by taking on non-fictional roles. Though this is not animation, the documentary genre is forever expanding and shifting mediums, even extending to live puppet shows.

Dan Hurlin’s ‘Disfarmer,’ is a biographical puppetry performance about the American realist portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, whose haunting and intimate portraits of the inhabitants of rural Arkansas became iconic works of art after his death in the 1950s. Hurlin’s show sees a full stage of puppeteers share command of one lithe puppet. The show chronicles Disfarmer’s solitary existence as a reclusive artist. The show ends up almost autobiographical, with the puppet bearing far more resemblance to Hurlin than Disfarmer, their respective determined and obsessive natures becoming clear throughout the performance.

Here’s a taster of the show:

To add another ‘meta’ element to this piece, first-time filmmaker David Soll has been following Hurlin’s ‘Disfarmer’ project, creating a documentary film about the documentary performance. Soll’s film entitled ‘Puppet’ charts Hurlin’s successes and failures, as well as scrutinising the art of puppetry in general. Soll sheds light on the negative reception puppet theatre often receives among an adult demographic.

For those in London, ‘Puppet’ is being screened at The Little Angel Puppet Theatre for the ‘Puppets on Film Festival’ 12th-14th April 2013 – so watch this space for a review.

‘Are You My Mother’ by Alison Bechdel

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In this reflective, self-referential lesson in psychoanalysis, Bechdel sketches out every inch of her conscious and subconscious. She includes immaculately drawn extracts from Winnicot, Freud and Virginia Woolf, cross referencing and applying them to some complicated relationships with the women in her life.  It is impossible not to relate to this brutally honest memoir. It is even more impossible not to devour it in one sitting.

If you’re a graphic novel novice like I was, reading this will have you forever veering towards the comics section of your bookshop.
There are freshly signed copies at Gosh Comics, Soho, London.

See all things Alison Bechdel at http://dykestowatchoutfor.com/

‘Green Porno’ by Isabella Rossellini & Jody Shapiro

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No animation here, but a new way with documentary story-telling which we feel sure you’ll want to see!

Five years ago, the most iconic of David Lynch’s heroines, Isabella Rossellini, went from ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘Green Porno.’ The actress and student of biology took on the characters of a mantis, a dolphin, a bedbug, a snail and many more, all for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge on the sex lives of animals.

These educational, experimental videos see Rossellini in full species costume, puppeteering her cardboard mates, whilst providing thoroughly researched narrative in her sultry accent.

Rossellini recently gave an interview for the Independent to discuss a new series for 2013, ‘Mamas’. This time she’s exploring maternal instincts in the animal kingdom.
For those who missed the online series (if you’re past the PG age) I’d recommend watching all of the ‘Green Porno’ videos.

In North America you can view them and lots more info on the Sundance Channel website http://www.sundancechannel.com/series/greenporno/

Elsewhere you’ll need to watch on Youtube:

Also available on iTunes for $9.99.

You’ll never look at an earthworm in the same way again.