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Consuming Spirits: Beautiful, sad, remarkable animation

Charlie Birnbaum, film director and manager of the Stonzek Theatre in the Lake Worth Playhouse, is the first to admit that “Consuming Spirits” is not for everyone. But its rewards, he says, are universal.

“It is absolutely beautiful. An astonishing achievement,” Birnbaum says of the animated film, which took its creator, Chris Sullivan, nearly 15 years to make. It is screening through Thursday at Stonzek Theatre.

“Consuming Spirits” follows the gloomy Rust Belt lives of late-night radio host Earl Gray; the reclusive Genny, who cares for her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother; and Genny’s sometime boyfriend, Victor Blue, teetering on the edge of sobriety.

Shooting frame-by-frame in 16 mm film, Sullivan, a professor of animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, tells his story in pencil drawings, paper cutouts and stop-motion animation.  Birnbaum says Sullivan’s determination, vivid imagination and meticulous attention to detail are on vivid display (trailer below).

“It’s dark, but hypnotizing. You will not see another film that looks quite like it,” Birnbaum says.

In a December review of “Consuming Spirits,” the New York Times’ A.O. Scott wrote: “This remarkable film … conducts its inquiry into the darkest zones of the human heart in a spirit at once anguished and playful. Mr. Sullivan’s pictorial wit and storytelling brio are delightful in ways that cut against the harshness of the story without blunting its deep ache.”

“Consuming Spirits” will screen at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday at the Stonzek Theatre, 709 Lake Ave., in Lake Worth. Tickets cost $9, $6 members. Call 561-296-9382 or go to More info:

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