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Quay Brothers at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

The independent Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, Massachusetts has chosen animation luminaries the Quay Brothers as the recipients of the 2009 Coolidge Award. The prestigious award is given annually to a film artist or artists whose work advances the spirit of original and challenging cinema. Previous honorees are film producer Jeremny Thomas in 2008, film editor Thelma Schoonmaker in 2007, actress Meryl Street in 2006, Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro in 2005 and Chinese director Zhang Yimou in 2004.

The Quays will be at the Coolidge May 6-7 for three unique events celebrating their achievements. In honor of the Quays, the Coolidge is also presenting a month-long retrospective showcase of their work. See below for information about all of these exciting programs.

The extraordinary Quays are two of the world's most original filmmakers. Identical twins who were born in Pennsylvania in 1947, the Quay Brothers studied illustration in Philadelphia before going on to the Royal College of Art in London, where they started to make animated shorts in the 1970s. They have lived in London ever since, making their unique and innovative films under the aegis of Koninck Studios.

Influenced by European writers, composers, and animators -- particularly Bruno Schulz, Robert Walser, Kafka, Laidislaw Starewicz, Jan Svankmajer, Janacek, and Stravinsky -- the Quays display a passion for detail, an exquisite command of color and texture, and an uncanny use of focus and camera movement. Best known for their classic film STREET OF CROCODILES, which filmmaker Terry Gilliam recently selected as one of the ten one of the ten best animated films of all time, they are masters of miniaturization and puppetry.

The Quays' gorgeous body of work includes many stop-action animation shorts, live action feature films (INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA, THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES), television commercials, music videos, set designs for theater and opera, and two dance films, DUET and THE SANDMAN. In 2002, they contributed an animated dream sequence for Julie Taymor's film FRIDA. They are currently in production on THE MASK, a film based on the short story by Stanislaw Lem.

Coolidge Award Event Wed., May 6

The Coolidge's biggest (and hippest) fundraising event of the year: a celebratory evening with the Quay Brothers and the people who love them! Featured guests include Thyrza Nichols Goodeve, an art critic and faculty member of the School of Visual Arts (NY), cinema scholar James Fiumara, and long-time Quay collaborator Larry Sider. These friends will engage the Quays in a visual tour of selected film clips and conversation about their unique body of work. This is a rare opportunity to meet these outstanding artists in person. The Brothers Quay will be presented with the 2009 Coolidge Award at the end of this lively event.

Tickets to the Coolidge Award Event are available to Coolidge Members beginning Tues, April 7 and to the general public beginning Sun, April 12. Admission: $150/$50. For details, visit

An Afternoon with the Quay Brothers Thurs., May 7 at 3:30 p.m. $15 general / $12 students and Coolidge Members

This year's Coolidge Award recipients present a selection of their work, including the iconic STREET OF CROCODILES (21 minutes), IN ABSENTIA, a collaboration with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, the premiere of the mesmerizing dance film EURYDICE -- SHE SO BELOVED (13 minutes), and a rarely-seen collection of the Quays' television commercials. A Q&A session with the Quay Brothers follows the screenings.

Tickets on-sale now at or at the Coolidge box office.

In Conversation: The Quay Brothers with Larry Sider Thurs., May 7 at 7 p.m. $15 general / $12 students and Coolidge Members

Sound designer and film editor Larry Sider, founder/director of the internationally respected School of Sound in the UK and collaborator with the Quays for over 20 years, leads a dynamic and entertaining tutorial in conversation with the Quay Brothers, focusing on the creation of the sound element in their films. At this interactive event, punctuated by cinematic excerpts, audience members will be fully immersed in the mesmerizing aural/visual world created by the Quays.

Tickets on-sale now at or at the Coolidge box office.

Quay Brothers Retrospective Screenings Mondays throughout April $9 general / $6 students and Coolidge Members

All retrospective programs are introduced by Peter Flynn, founder/director of the Boston Irish Film Festival, as well as a filmmaker and author. Mr. Flynn teaches courses in Media History, Theory, and Production at Emerson College.

Tickets to all screenings available now at or day-of at the Coolidge box office.

Shorts Program: Four Haunting Films Mon., April 13 at 7 p.m.

NOCTURNA ARTIFICILIA -- The Quays' first surviving film presents a city at night, which lures one wakeful soul from his room and onto a tram. A sense of mystery and tension is created by half-seen objects and cryptic intertitles. (1979, 21 minutes)

THIS UNNAMEABLE LITTLE BROOM -- Originally conceived as an hour-long program for the BBC's Channel 4 exploring the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, this piece stands as one of the Quays' most memorable works. Gilgamesh lays traps for Enkidu, here depicted as a fantastic skeletal bird creature, to a throbbing musical score by Richard Walter. (1985, 11 minutes)

THE CABINET OF JAN SVANKMAJER -- Here the Quays pay tribute to the influential Czech animator Jan Svankmajer, exploring his ideas and methods in their own style; these pieces were originally links between chapters of a longer BBC documentary on the animator. (1984, 14 minutes)

THE PHANTOM MUSEUM -- Originally commissioned as a video installation for the British Museum exhibition "Medicine Man: The Forgotten Museum of Henry Wellcome," this piece looks at part of a collection of over 125,000 medical artifacts. Anatomical models, prosthetic limbs, and other items are displayed, sometimes statically, in some instances animated by the Quays. (2003, 11 minutes)

Shorts Program: Dance Films and Commercials Mon., April 20 at 7 p.m.

This program features a selection of the Quays' work unavailable elsewhere:

THE SANDMAN -- Influenced by E. T. A. Hoffmann's story, THE SAND-MAN and the music of Janacek, the Brothers create a dreamlike experience betraying our impression of familiar objects. This haunting piece, which starts at the deathbed of Hoffmann himself, unites dance, music, and film, magically blurring the boundaries between real and imaginary, visible and invisible (2001, 43 minutes)

DUET -- A film about dance, created around the music of Arvo Part, with choreography by Will Tuckett. Ethereal performances by Adam Cooper and Zenaida Yanowsky, principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, set in the Quays' vision of evocative space (2000, 18 minutes)

Quay Brothers Commercials -- The Quays are no stranger to the commercial format. This collection includes television commercials for the likes of Rice Krispies Treats, Doritos, and Fox Sports.

INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA Mon., April 27 at 7 p.m.

The first live action feature from the Quay Brothers, INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA is inspired by the writings of Swiss novelist Robert Walser. The film focuses on the monotonous repetition of activity faced daily by the inhabitants of the Benjamenta Institute for the Training of Domestic Servants. The Quay's continue to explore their motifs of death, decay and nothingness, with live actors added to their collage of objects. (35mm, 1995, 1h44m)

For more information about the Coolidge Award events and Quay retrospective screenings, visit or call (617) 734-2500.

Monday, April 13, 2009 - 11:00am to Thursday, May 7, 2009 - 7:00pm
Submission Deadline 
Monday, April 13, 2009 - 12:00pm