A MAGIC LANTERN LIFE

POLISH TITLE: MAGICZNE ŻYCIE. OPOWIEŚĆ O AMERICAN MAGIC-LANTERN THEATER

The film documents the performances and history of The American Magic Lantern Theater, a troupe that recreates the 19th century spectacles of magic lantern shows—the live projected productions that preceded cinema over 100 years ago.  AMLT, based in Connecticut, consists of two people, usually Terry Borton, founder and showman, and lead singer Nancy Stewart.  The company has been performing for 20 years, is the only professional magic-lantern theater in the US, and is one of the only three existing in the world.

Terry Borton is not only an amazing performer but also a magic lantern historian and author (with his wife) of a book on the subject, Before the Movies.  He is a great story teller who spins fascinating tales about his family’s long-time love affair with magic lanterns—stories that go back to his great-grandfather in 1900.  He discusses the history of the medium, and how he himself evolved from a being a school teacher and editor of Weekly Reader to a performer. Borton’s narration is interwoven with scenes of live performances from AMLT’s shows, and with interviews from his wife Debbie and singer/accompanist Nancy Stewart. Other people appearing in the video include Terry’s father conducting a family lantern show, and two prominent collectors and historians of magic lanterns, Richard Balzer and Kent Wells, who discuss with Borton their private collections of magic lanterns and other optical toys.

GENRE:
documentary
COUNTRY:
Poland, USA
RUNNING TIME:
51'
YEAR:
DIRECTING:
Marcin Giżycki, Peter O’Neill
SCRIPT:
Marcin Giżycki
DOP:
Marcin Giżycki, Peter O’Neill, Martha Swetzoff
EDITOR:
Marcin Giżycki
MUSIC:
Marek Wilczyński
SOUND:
Marcin Giżycki, Peter O’Neill, Martha Swetzoff, Jason O’Neill
PRODUCTION:
Skylight Film
COPRODUCTION:
Studio Filmowe Kalejdoskop

Marcin Giżycki »

Art and film historian, critic, filmmaker. Editor in Chief of “Animafilm” magazine (1979-81). Profesor at Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology in Warsaw and Senior Lecturer at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, USA (since 1988). Artistic Director of “Animator” International Animated Film Festival in Poznan, Poland (since 2007). He has made a number of documentary, experimental, and animated films, among them “I Am Providence: The Story of H.P. Lovecraft and His City” (1997), “Gus Van Sant” (1998, with Slawomir Grünberg), “The Island of Jan Lenica” (1998), “Travels of Daniel Szczechura” (2005), “106 Olney Street” (2007), “Sicilian Flea” (2008), “Panta Rhei” (2008), “Aquatura” (2010), “AE” (2011), “Kinefaktura” (2012), “F.I.T.” (2012), “FFF1” (2013), “White Curtain” (2014), “A Magic-Lantern Life” (2014), “Watch Your Thoughts” (2015), “Mono Canne” (2015), "Sto[ne]s" (2015), "Monument" (2016), "Stone Story" (2016), "Theatrum Magicum" (2017). His books include: “Disney Was Not the Only One” (2000), “Wenders Go Home!” (2006). He co-curated retrospectives of Polish animated films at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2003) and Centre Pompidou in Paris (2004).

Peter O’Neill »

Professor at Rhode Island School of Design, director of documentary films, cinematographer. Selected filmography: 1979 - FINAL MARKS: THE ART OF THE CARVED LETTER, co-direction (with  with Frank Muhly), cinematography; 1982 - THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE, co-direction (with  Ralph Rugoff), cinematography; 1986 - HERE WE LIVE AGAIN, co-direction (with  Mike Fink), cinematography; 1988 - TREE OF IRON, co-direction (with  Peter Schmidt), cinematography; 1990 – SAUDADE, co-direction (with   Bela Feldman Bianco), cinematography; 1993 - SAMUEL YELLIN’S LEGACY, chief director, cinematography; 1994 - A JAMES BARNHILL PORTRAIT, co-direction (with  Marcin Giżycki), cinematography; 1997 - THE MAKING OF HAND-E-OVER, co-direction (with  Marcin Giżycki), cinematography; UNORTODOX GEOMETRY: URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD, SCULPTURE SINCE 1990, co-direction (with  Marcin Giżycki), cinematography; 1999-2003 – ArtContext (series of 4 films), direction, cinematography; 2011 - BETTER PLACES, co-direction (with  Louisa Schein), cinematography; A MAGIC-LANTERN LIFE: A STORY OF THE AMERICAN MAGIC LANTERN THEATER, co-direction (with  Marcin Giżycki), co-cinematography.