Aug 27–Oct 31
Oct 25–Oct 29
Leonardo and Sam* The Film!

School Only On Demand Streaming

Oct 31
Sun
Frankenstein

Berkeley, CA

Jan 29–Feb 27
Mar 19
Sat
The Magic City

Chicago, IL

The Company

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 an awarded an Emmy 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 are featured in the film remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions premiering August 27, 2021.

Honors & Awards

Emmy Award logo
Peabody award logo
NY Times Critics Pick logo
Time Out NY Critic Pick
Hot Docs logo
Jeff Awards
Elliot norton award
LAUREL OFFICIAL SELECTION TEHRAN
LAUREL BAM NEXT WAVE MEMENTOS NEW

CO-ARTISTIC DIRECTORS AND STAFF

Drew photo test

Drew Dir

Co-Artistic Director

writer, director, puppet designer

Drew photo test

Drew Dir

Co-Artistic Director

DREW DIR is a writer, director, and puppet designer. Previously, he served as the Resident Dramaturg of Court Theatre and a lecturer in theater and performance studies at the University of Chicago. He holds a master’s degree in Text and Performance Studies from King’s College London and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Sarah photo test

Sarah Fornace

Co-Artistic Director

director, puppeteer, choreographer, narrative designer

Sarah photo test

Sarah Fornace

Co-Artistic Director

SARAH FORNACE is a director, puppeteer, choreographer, and narrative designer based in Chicago. She is a co-Artistic Director of Manual Cinema. Outside of Manual Cinema, Sarah has worked as a performer or choreographer with Redmoon Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Court Theatre, Steppenwolf Garage, and Blair Thomas and Co. Most recently, Sarah wrote the story mode for the video game Rivals of Aether. In 2017, she directed and edited the first episode of the web series, The Doula is IN. In 2016, she directed and devised an “animotion” production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with Rokoko Studios for HamletScen at Kromborg Castle in Elsinore, Denmark.

Ben Kauffman photo test

Ben Kauffman

Co-Artistic Director

composer, director, interactive media artist

Ben Kauffman photo test

Ben Kauffman

Co-Artistic Director

BEN KAUFFMAN is a composer, director and interactive media artist. His most recent work has been exhibited at The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, CUNY’s Baruch College, and he has lectured and given workshops at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York University, Baruch College, and Parsons the New School of Design. He holds a Master’s degree from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).

Julia photo test

Julia Miller

Co-Artistic Director

director, puppeteer, designer

Julia photo test

Julia Miller

Co-Artistic Director

JULIA MILLER is a director, puppeteer, and puppet designer. With Manual Cinema she has directed Mementos Mori and The End of TV as well as created original roles in Ada/Ava (Ada), Lula del Ray (Lula’s Mother), The Magic City (Helen), Hansel und Gretel (Hansel) and Frankenstein (The Creature/Helen). In Chicago she has worked as a performer and puppeteer with Redmoon Theatre and Blair Thomas and Co. She spent several years training in devised theatre, clown and mask with Double Edge Theatre, Carlos García Estevez and at the Academia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy. She is a co-producer/director/editor of the web series The Doula is IN.

Kyle portrait test

Kyle Vegter

Co-Artistic Director

composer, producer, sound designer

Kyle portrait test

Kyle Vegter

Co-Artistic Director

KYLE VEGTER is a composer, producer, sound designer, and Managing Artistic Director of Manual Cinema. As a composer he’s been commissioned by such groups as TIGUE, The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW series, the Chicago Composer’s Orchestra, the New York Times, and NPR’s Invisibilia. His production credits span genres, and include recent releases by Thin Hymns, Spektral Quartet, Tim Munro (of eighth blackbird), and Color Card. His past Composer/ Sound Designer credits with Manual Cinema include Lula Del Ray, Ada/ Ava, FJORDS, The End of TV and various other performance and video projects. He has been an artist in residence at High Concept Laboratories, and co-founded Chicago’s only contemporary classical music cassette label Parlour Tapes+.

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