Pictured, left to right: Manual Cinema Co-Artistic Directors Julia Miller, Kyle Vegter, Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace and Ben Kauffman. Photo by Maren Celest.
Manual Cinema is an Emmy Award winning performance collective, design studio, and film/video production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller and Kyle Vegter. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality. The company was awarded an Emmy Award in 2017 for The Forger, a video created for The New York Times and named Chicago Artists of the Year in 2018 by the Chicago Tribune. Their shadow puppet animations will be featured in the film remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions.
To date, Manual Cinema has created nine feature length live multimedia theater shows (Lula del Ray, ADA/ AVA, Fjords, Mementos Mori, My Soul’s Shadow, The Magic City, The End of TV, No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks and Frankenstein); a live cinematic contemporary dance show created for family audiences in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance and the choreographer Robyn Mineko Williams (Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure); an original site-specific installation for the MET Museum (La Celestina); an original adaptation of Hansel & Gretel created for the Belgian Royal Opera; music videos for Sony Masterworks, Gabriel Kahane, eighth blackbird, author Reif Larson and Esperanza Spalding; a live non-fiction piece for Pop-Up magazine; a self-produced short film (Chicagoland); a museum exhibit created in collaboration with the Chicago History Museum (The Secret Lives of Objects) a collection of cinematic shorts in collaboration with poet Zachary Schomburg and string quartet Chicago Q Ensemble (Fjords); live cinematic puppet adaptations of StoryCorps stories (Show & Tell) and NPR’s Invisibilia and four animated videos for the Poetry Foundation (We Real Cool, Poem, Three WWI Poems and Multitudes). The Forger, Manual Cinema’s Emmy Award-winning collaboration with The New York Times, was nominated for a documentary short Peabody Award and won second prize in the World Press Photo 2017 Digital Storytelling Contest, Long Form.
Learn more at ManualCinema.com.