Nolan Brothers Quay documentary

Stephen and Timothy Quay are twin animators who have worked in both short and feature forms for decades, creating striking and unusual images such as the one above, from The Comb. While their style is indebted to other directors such as Jan Svankmajer, whose work is namechecked in an early Quay short, Brothers Quay films are singular efforts. Their shorts have appeared on laserdisc and DVD, but so far the primary way to get their incredible short films on blu-ray has been as bonus features on UK issues of their features.

Now Christopher Nolan and his company Syncopy are working with Zeitgeist Films to curate Blu-Ray releases, including a disc featuring the short work of the Brothers Quay. Now we’ve learned there’s a bonus: Nolan has directed Quay, a short documentary about the animators, which will premiere in New York in August. 

The info comes via the Film Form listing for screenings of Brothers Quay shorts, via The Film Stage. We don’t know much about the documentary short, but here’s what the Film Forum listing says:

Christopher Nolan, whose new short film about the brothers is having its world premiere as part of THE QUAY BROTHERS – ON 35MM, will appear in conversation with Stephen and Timothy Quay to discuss their work at the 7:00* and 9:30PM* shows on opening night, Wednesday, August 19.

This program of shorts and Nolan’s doc is also hitting other cities, with dates set for Cinefamily in LA in early September, The Brattle Theatre in Cambridge MA in late September, and several other stops. Get all the info here.

We can hope that the documentary will appear on the blu-ray release along with the rest of the Brothers’ short work. (And their features, too. I’d be most excited to revisit The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes.)

Here’s Film Forum’s description of the brothers’ work:

American identical twins working in London, stop motion animators Stephen and Timothy Quay (born 1947 in Norristown, Pennsylvania) find their inspiration in Eastern European literature and classical music and art, their work distinguished by its dark humor and an uncanny feeling for color and texture. Masters of miniaturization, they turn their tiny sets into unforgettable worlds suggestive of long-repressed childhood dreams. These three Quay masterworks, selected by director Christopher Nolan, feature broken pencils and lead shavings in IN ABSENTIA (2000; “a dazzling piece of work” – The Guardian); a porcelain doll’s explorations of a dreamer’s imagination in THE COMB (1991; “most beautiful of their recent films” – The New Yorker); and the nightmarish netherworld of STREET OF CROCODILES (1986; “their crowning achievement” – Film Comment); and for the first time ever, QUAY (2015), Nolan’s new short film revealing the inner workings of the Brothers’ studio. All four films in 35mm.

Here’s the Brothers Quay short Street of Crocodiles, which is one of the most visually amazing things I’ve ever seen. I know from experience that seeing these films on 35mm is wonderful, and the thought of being able to study details via blu-ray is so appealing.

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