Brothers Quay to Receive '09 Coolidge Award
6th Annual Award to Edgy Animation Twins
By: Mark Favermann - Mar 26, 2009
The identical twins were born in Pennsylvania in 1947. They studied illustration in Philadelphia before going to the Royal College of Art in London. There they began to make animated shorts in the 1970's. They have lived and worked there ever since. Clearly influenced by Central and Eastern European imagery, illustration and animation, the brothers display a passion for at times exquisite detail, a super sensitivity and command of color and texture, and an uncanny rather signature use of focus and camera movement. These traits make their work unique and instantly recognizable.
Their film Street of Crocodiles was recently recognized by auteur filmmaker Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Brazil, etc.) as one of the greatest animated films of all time. The Quays are masters of minaturization. Their tiny sets suggest long repressed dreamlike vistas of childhood landscapes of wonder and horror. They made their first live action feature length film in 1994, Institute Benjamenta. In 2005, they premiered their second feature, The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes.
The Brothers Quay have also designed for theatre and opera. In 1998, they won a Tony nomination on Broadway for Ionesco's The Chairs. In 2000, they made In Abstentia, an award-winning collaboration with avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. They also worked on two dance films, The Sandman and Duet. Working with director Julie Taymor, the twins created the dream/nightmare sequence for Frida, the artist Frida Kahlo film.
The Quays are not only recognized for their use of minatures, but for puppets and technology-related characterizations as well. Though not always dark, their body of work has a perceptible edge to it. This edginess can be visually embracing. There is an inner beauty and visceral truth layered in their work. They are artistic masters of visually portraying an imaginary constantly changing sculptural universe.
The inaugral Coolidge Award was presented in 2004 to the distinguished Chinese director Zhang Yimou who created such cinematic greats as Raise the Red Lantern, Hero and The House of Flying Daggers. Each year, The Coolidge Award goes to a distinguished individual in a separate category. After the international director's award in 2004, the 2005 award went to Italian cinematographer (cameraman) Vittorio Storaro (Reds, Apocalypse Now, The Conformist), the 2006 award went to the American actress icon Meryl Streep and the 2007 award went to film editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Raging Bull, Goodfellers, The Departed), Martin Scorcese's film editor. Last year it went to the hip British producer Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor, Sexy Beast and The Great Rock and Roll Swindle).
Along the way, major entertainment friends and mentors often appear to honor each of the recipients. For Meryl Streep, the late director Robert Altman made one of his last public appearances. Martin Scorcese attended panels for Thelma Scoonmaker. Academy award winner Chris Cooper was there to honor Streep as well. British character actor Tim Roth honored Jeremy Thomas last year along with actress Deborah Winger. Distinguished writers and critics have also been part of the programs adding a broad view of the film world and its nuances. Educational panels have continually added thoughtful depth to the awards ceremonies.
The non-profit Coolidge Corner Theatre opened in 1933. It is considered to be one of the nation's most prominent independently operated movie theatres. Over the past decade, it has won numerous awards for its creative and innovated programming. In the past year, The Coolidge completed a successful capital campaign to renovate the interior of the Art Deco theatre. This year it is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. A comprehensive written and visual history of the theatre is being completed in time for this year's Coolidge Award ceremonies.
The Coolidge Award comes with a check to each recipient of $10,000. A generous ten year gift from the Patricia Larsson Foundation is the benefactor for this prize. Other foundation grants pay for the award festivities. The 13" high transparent lucite award is based upon the Coolidge Corner Theatre's iconic marquee. The award and the marquee were both created by Mark Favermann.
Tickets can be purchased from the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation, www.coolidge.org, or by calling 617-734-2501.