An Animal is Not a Metaphor

  • Berlin Horse
  • Jamal [A Camel]
  • Cat Dance
  • Horsey
  • It Matters What
  • Stitching the Future with Clues
  • Turkey Vultures


The State Theatre #1 Sat, Mar 30 7:00 PM



Education Partner

Wayne State University Department of Communication

Community Partner

Riverside Arts Center



Curated by Kornelia Boczkowska

Since the early days of avant-garde cinema, some iconic experimental films, including Private Life of a Cat (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1947), Mothlight (Stan Brakhage, 1963), Berlin Horse (Malcolm Le Grice, 1970), and Jamal (Ibrahim Shaddad, 1981), have abundantly featured animals, usually presented not as mere props or companions, but as central characters both closely interlinked with and independent of humans. In response to the animal crisis and the current developments of the Anthropocene, this program will demonstrate how artist-made films bring in the animal viewpoint so that animals become not just a subject or a metaphor, but a real object of the film, and provide clues to reexamining and transforming species co-existence.

Berlin Horse

Malcolm Le Grice
UK | 1970 | 7 | 16mm

Two sequences: one, a horse being exercised in the village of Berlin near Hamburg in Germany; the other, an early Edison newsreel of horses being led from a burning stable. Both were visually transformed and colored on the printer at the London Film Makers Cooperative. The sound is an original track by Brian Eno.

Jamal [A Camel]

Ibrahim Shaddad
Sudan | 1981 | 13 | 16mm

A report from the life of a camel, most of which plays out in a dreary, small room—a sesame mill.

Cat Dance

Scott Stark
USA | 1991 | 6 | digital

Two cats become visual elements as they are playfully dragged through fields of pattern and color, followed by a manic section of breathless vocalizing by the filmmaker.


Frédéric Moffet
Canada | 2018 | 9 | digital file

“Horses are lucky, they’re stuck with the war same as us, but nobody expects them to be in favor of it, to pretend to believe in it.” An allegory recycling images from the past, still relevant to the present moment.


Everlane Moraes
Cuba | 2019 | 21 | digital file

In the dense night, when the moon lifts the tide, beings are trapped in the daily life of water scarcity. They are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea.

It Matters What

Francisca Duran
Chile / Canada | 2019 | 9 | digital file

Absences and translations motivate this experimental animation in an exploration of the methods and materials of reproduction and inscription. The inquiry is set within a framework of practical and critical human relationships with other-than-human species elucidated by the theorist Donna Haraway.

Stitching the Future with Clues

Allison Leigh Holt
NY / CA | 2021 | 14 | digital file

A neurodivergent-futurist manifesto, commissioned by the Ford Foundation Gallery for the exhibition Indisposable: Structures of Support After the ADA. Existing both as a single-channel film and as an immersive live performance, it asks viewers to consider feedback systems as theoretical frameworks, using animated diagrams, audio/video feedback processes, and expanded cinema techniques.

Turkey Vultures

Toney Merritt
USA | 2020 | 1 | digital file

Turkey vultures in flight this morning, 4/25/2020, over Toney Merritt’s home in Northern California.

Kornelia Boczkowska
is an assistant professor of English at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, where she received a PhD in English in 2015. She has received several research grants and is the author of two books and over forty other publications on independent, experimental, and avant-doc film.