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November 18–21, 2021

“I could cut silhouettes almost as soon as I could manage to hold a pair of scissors. I could paint, too, and read, and recite; but these things did not surprise anyone very much. But everybody was astonished about the scissor cuts, which seemed a more unusual accomplishment. The silhouettes were very much praised, and I cut out silhouettes for all the birthdays in the family. Did anyone warn me as to where this path would lead? Not in the least; I was encouraged to continue.”

— Lotte Reiniger, Sight and Sound Spring 1936


Animation pioneer Lotte Reiniger developed a film language in cut paper silhouettes, debuting her first animated film in 1919 and going on to make one of the first feature-length animated films—and the oldest extant animated feature—The Adventures of Prince Achmed.  Reiniger called her intricate puppetry animations “shadow films.” Her storytelling continues to influence filmmakers including Kara Walker, whose animated films nod to Reiniger’s techniques and visual language.

Join for this virtual screening of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, a fantastical and sometimes sinister tale that plucks a flying horse, magic islands, sorcerers, witches, and transformations from The Thousand and One Nights.


Film Introduction

Interplay: Prince Achmed and Kara Walker



Ciona Rouse is a poet and educator based in Nashville, Tenn., who served as co-curator for the Frist Art Museum’s Kara Walker: Cut to the Quick and guest curator for the exhibition’s time at CAM. The author of Vantablack, the first chapbook of Third Man Books (2017), her poetry has also appeared in Oxford Americanwildness journalThe Account and NPR’s Turning the Tables. Rouse is a visiting writer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University.

Trudy Gaba joined the Cincinnati Art Museum as Curatorial Assistant of South Asian Art, Islamic Art and Antiquities in 2018. She completed her master’s at the University of Edinburgh in 2017, where her research focused on seventeenth and eighteenth-century painting at the Mughal court. In her current role at the Cincinnati Art Museum, she supports the department in the acquisition, research, and display of the museum’s distinguished collections from South Asia, the Islamic World, the ancient Middle East, and the ancient Mediterranean.



Feature Film

The Adventures of Prince Achmed


Reiniger’s fairy tale unfolds against flickering fields of color, visible again thanks to the Frankfurt Filmmuseum’s beautiful restoration from a color nitrate positive copy housed at the National Film and Television Archive (NFTVA) at the British Film Institute. (The original camera negative was destroyed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin.) The restored film also includes new orchestral recording of the original Wolfgang Zeller score.

The story begins in the Caliph’s palace, where an African sorcerer tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a flying horse. Achmed travels to magical and faraway places, falling in love with Princess Peri Banu and eventually joining forces with the witch of the fiery mountain. Reiniger’s silhouetted actors are enchanting, engaging and full of personality—though some are cloaked in racial and ethnic stereotypes. The story hints at an interplay of sexuality, violence, and power that lies beneath the surface of many fairy tales.



Expanding the Conversation

Shadow Stories: Walker and DaCosta

Art Palace host Russell Ihrig and esteemed film programmer and critic tt stern-enzi explore Nia DaCosta’s adaptation of paper silhouettes in her 2021 horror film, Candyman.


tt stern-enzi has spent 20 years as a freelance writer and film critic in the Greater Cincinnati region, covering the film industry and film festivals with the alt-weekly Cincinnati CityBeat and television affiliate Fox19, while earning distinction as an accredited critic on Rotten Tomatoes and membership in the Critics Choice Association. He began curating film programs at the Mini Microcinema and other regional venues, also serving on the advisory board for the University of Cincinnati Center for Film & Media Studies. These efforts have paved the way for tt to step into the role of lead programmer/curator for the rebranded Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival during its first two years before settling into the position of Artistic Director for the 2021 edition. He is also a Board Member of the Film Festival Alliance. 

Russell Ihrig is the Associate Director of Interpretive Programming at the Cincinnati Art Museum. He graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Art with an emphasis in drawing. He began working as Coordinator of Interpretive Programming at the museum in 2013. Russell currently manages many of the museum's in-person programs, and hosts and produces the museum's podcast, Art Palace.