A Horse Is Not a Metaphor & Relict: A Phantasmagoria


The State Theatre #1 Fri, Mar 29 7:00 PM



Dominick's London College of Communication

Community Partner

Pickle Fort Film Collective


Deborah Greer


The Ann Arbor Film Festival presents the film portion of this program in homage to and celebration of Barbara Hammer, whose named award, the Barbara Hammer Feminist Film Award, was established by filmmaker Lynne Sachs. The annual award became fully endowed in the summer of 2023, ensuring that every year the AAFF can recognize the work that best conveys Hammer’s passion for celebrating and examining the experiences of women.

A Horse Is Not A Metaphor
Barbara Hammer
New York, NY | 2008 | 30 | digital file

In Hammer’s autobiographical experimental film A Horse Is Not A Metaphor, the artist reflects on her personal fight against stage 3 ovarian cancer, transforming illness into recovery. Describing herself as a cancer “thriver” rather than a survivor, Hammer rides on horseback through the red hills of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, the grassy foothills of the Big Horn in Wyoming, and leafy paths in Woodstock, New York. In this multilayered film, Hammer moves from scenes of chemotherapy sessions to images of light and movement that take her far from the hospital bed. The haunting score is by musician Meredith Monk.

Relict: A Phantasmagoria

Melissa Ferrari
Los Angeles, CA | 2023 | 35 | magic lanterns, expanded hand-drawn animation

Relict: A Phantasmagoria is an experimental documentary performed with antique magic lanterns and hand-drawn animation. Invoking the history of magic lantern phantasmagoria as an exercise in belief and perception, Relict considers the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, religion, and documentary ethics—all collapsed into contemporary cryptozoology. Reviving the lantern’s historical role as a tool for scientific lectures and adapting modern cryptozoological lore to handmade lantern slides, Relict wanders through histories of documentary animation used to visualize and legitimize monstrous creatures.

Melissa Ferrari is an experimental nonfiction animator, magic lanternist, and educator. Her works have been shown internationally in venues such as Hot Docs, Hauser & Wirth, Slamdance, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. She aims to unveil the wonder that lies in the shadow of nonfiction.