“Consuming Spirits, an animated feature by Chris Sullivan, is a defiant— or maybe, even better, an oblivious—exception to the rules and patterns of contemporary cartoon entertainment. [I]t is a work of obsessive artisanal discipline and unfettered artistic vision.” —New York Times
Minneapolis, December 21, 2012—The Walker Art Center presents Filmmakers in Conversation: Chris Sullivan on February 8, 7:30 pm, in the Walker Cinema. The program includes a screening of Sullivan’s Consuming Spirits and a post-screening discussion with the director, an alumnus of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and curator Sheryl Mousley. Additionally, Consuming Spirits will be screened Saturday, February 9 at 3 pm. Tickets to each event are $9 ($7 Walker members, students with ID, and seniors).
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.
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.
Filmmakers in Conversation is made possible by generous support from Michelle and Bill Pohlad.