Once a small girl, from Berlin, hailed from the shadows, a light from within.
Interview with Writer/Director Elizabeth Beecherl
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! We made the film after we discovered our wonderful subject, Lotte Reiniger, and her work online. We would tell friends about her and her amazing inventions and accomplishments, and we were shocked to find out that hardly anyone had heard of her. Even the animation experts didn't know who she was. And she invented the multiplane camera and created the first feature length animation. These were both huge turning points in film, and especially animation!
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Well first, everyone should know Lotte Reiniger. Her work is drop-dead gorgeous and she revolutionized the world of animation. But second, our film is a very unique and interesting mix of genres--it's a musical, an animation, a documentary, a fairy tale, and a biopic. It has a very artful approach. And last, it is narrated by Lotte Reiniger herself, and she is utterly charming in it. We hope that as you watch the animation and listen to her voice, you will be transported into a magical world where Lotte is the star.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
This is the story of one woman's life of love, cruelty, sadness, hope, and hard work. These are some of the themes of her life, and since the story is told by Lotte in first person, it is very heart-warming and personal. But at the same time, the intimacy becomes universal. Lotte talks about her dreams that never came true, and most of us have experienced that in one way or another. I think when someone is as honest as Lotte is in this film, the personal becomes universal.
It is also universal because she is a woman who has been overshadowed by men, especially by Walt Disney. He has somehow claimed credit in the court of public knowledge for two of her achievements: the first feature length animation and the invention of the multiplane camera. Even wikipedia claims that her multiplane camera is a predecessor as opposed to just crediting her as its inventor. The distinction is subtle, but it says a lot about our culture and the language we use for those in power versus those who aren't. So universal themes become apparent within the political and social context today such as fake news and the suppression of women's voices.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
We wanted Lotte to narrate the film because she is very charming, and we wanted a personal touch, almost like you are sitting by a campfire listening to her tell her story. So the script is culled from a longer interview with her. We snipped and rearranged the best parts, and then we sculpted it into a fairy tale type of story. Lotte told fairy tales so we wanted to turn her life into its own new fairy tale. But she was reluctant to talk about parts of her life like her husband's death and WWII so we filled in those parts with music and dance to convey the emotional impacts they had on her life. Also, we discussed bringing in a second narrator to fill in some of the missing facts of her life, but we decided that would take away from the intimacy of the magical world we were trying to create.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Our friends and family have been very supportive! We've only screened at one festival so far, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the audience loved it. A lot of people want us to turn it into a longer film. Some people have told us that they cried when they watched it, and everyone loves the music!
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We didn't anticipate turning it into a longer film, but now we're seriously considering it. Screening at the Ann Arbor Film Festival was very enlightening. It is an experimental film festival so our film was one of the most straight-forwardly narrative films there. The audience there loved our film, but we felt a bit out of their league, and I definitely feel inspired to play around with narrative with more freedom and experimentation as we develop it into its longer version. Also, there was a discussion about Lotte's resistance to political commentary. She believed in fairy tales, and she avoided politics, which can be seen as either beautiful or disappointing depending on who you're talking to. I think this is an interesting topic, and I'd like to investigate it further as it relates to Lotte's life and to my life.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We would like people to come out to the screenings and to spread the word about who Lotte Reiniger was. Let's turn her into the celebrated hero she should be! That is our whole point of making this film. Women and men should celebrate the female heroes of our past so that the next generation of girls can find role models in all acts of life.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We would love to find a producer to help make the longer version. There isn't too much of a distribution path for short films, so we mainly just want to get as many people to see our sort as possible, which means journalists writing reviews and sharing the film with their audiences! So thank you for being a part of sharing Lotte's story!
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
If the next generation of animators, filmmakers, and the public in general are raised knowing who Lotte Reiniger is, we will be be thrilled! It would be great for young girls and boys to know her and to be inspired by her.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Who invented the multiplane camera? ...or... Who created the first feature length animation?
Would you like to add anything else?
Thank you for asking us these questions! It's been a pleasure to answer them and to better define my thoughts about Lotte and about filmmaking generally.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
My co-director, Carla Patullo, and I are working on a new film. It will be about an inspiring woman again, but this time, it'll be a feature film. We are working on the script now, and it's been a very fun and lively experience!
Interview: March 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTIAQ+, scifi, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Lotte that Silhouette Girl
Once a small girl, from Berlin, hailed from the shadows, a light from within.
Length: 10 min.
Director: Elizabeth Beecherl and Carla Patullo
Producer: Trick Studio
Writer: Elizabeth Beecherl, Carla Patullo, and Jennifer Maisel
- Elizabeth Beecherl is an animator and a director who started filmmaking after watching Lotte Reiniger’s 1922 film ASCHENPUTTEL and falling in love with silhouette animation.
- Carla Patullo is an award-winning visual media composer who creates rich, emotionally attuned soundscapes that celebrate the power in any story.
- Jennifer Maisel is a playwright who grew up in a picture perfect Long Island suburb where she once found a dead man in her driveway...
Key cast: Erica Hanrahan-Ball, Andrew Diego, Sean Smith
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): producers, distributors, and journalists
Social media handles:
Made in association with: You can find a full list of credits here: http://www.lotte-movie.com/crew/
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
We are screening in several cities in the next few months: Palm Springs, Orlando, Toronto, Newport Beach, Winston-Salme, and more. For a complete list of screenings, go here: http://www.lotte-movie.com/screenings