Animated Recreation of Original Vampire Film Premieres in Free Public Screenings
This August, More Art premieres NYsferatu: Symphony of a Century by Andrea Mastrovito, a spectacular, hand-animated, silent film that combines music and community engagement to create a powerful and poignant statement about the horrors of the unknown and the inspiring search for liberty. More Art, a local nonprofit that fosters collaborations between professional artists and communities, will host a series of free screenings of the film in public parks, cultural institutions, and venues across New York City this summer and fall.
NYsferatu is a rotoscope recreation of Friedrich W. Murnau's seminal 1922 film Nosferatu, itself an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Each background scene has been entirely redrawn to set the film in present day New York City. Taking the first step in a three-year process, Mastrovito and a team of 12 artists drew each background three times to replicate the beautifully eerie flickering shutter effect of early cinema. The artist, whose installations have captivated viewers throughout Europe and New York, aimed to create a summary of our times, a kind of "everybody's biography" using cinema as a popular language.
"Drawing is humanity's most basic language," said Mastrovito. "This is why I try to understand and describe the world we are living in today through thousands of drawings and visual allusions. Very often the best mediator between the world of ideas and the real world is a simple pencil." All in all, the artist has made over 35,000 original drawings to create this feature length animation.
The film is accompanied by an original musical score composed by Simone Giuliani. At select locations, the
soundtrack of the film will be performed live and reinterpreted by distinguished professional musicians, bringing a new layer of improvisational dynamism to the film.
Turning the original film on its head, NYsferatu questions the classical interpretation of the vampire, seen here as the prototypical outsider, while it addresses the many obstacles encountered by immigrants who often escape war and hardships at home only to face challenges such as economic exploitation, discrimination, and xenophobia in their new country. Viewers of all ages should expect to see many familiar images in the film including iconic New York City landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Freedom Tower as well as countless visual references to our current economic and political climate, rewarding multiple viewings.
The reimagined storyline of NYsferatu was informed by contributions from recent immigrants and English as new language learners who engaged with Mastrovito and More Art throughout the production of the film. During a series of writing and film studies workshops, new multi-lingual title cards were written in many languages including Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and English by fellow foreign-born New Yorkers whose stories and perspectives are usually left out of mainstream narratives. The meaning and content of the film fundamentally changed based on feedback from the workshops.
"NYsferatu triggered different parts of the imagination and CURIOSITY of our participants. The workshops asked us how this historical interpretation of the film might be counterposed with our current reality," said Guido Garaycochea, the Manager of the New New Yorkers Program at the Queens Museum where a month-long workshop was held for Queens residents.
"Working on the project, seeing the film, writing, drawing, engaging in critical thinking, particularly exploring the question, 'what is the vampire in my life?,' allowed the students of the Turning Point Education Center advanced class to make many connections between their personal experiences as immigrants and current events in the US and in their countries," said Maritza Arrastia, an ESOL Educator based in Brooklyn.
"We're excited to expand the dialogue about NYsferatu with the greater public," said Micaela Martegani, Executive Director of More Art. "We think it will resonate with diverse audiences and can't wait to see how New Yorkers respond."
about the artist.
Andrea Mastrovito (b. 1978) is a New York-based, Italian-born artist whose artistic path snakes through the reinvention of drawing and swings from his studio to the audience through public performances and installations. He is the 2007 recipient of the New York Prize, 2012 recipient of the Moroso Prize, and 2016 recipient of the Ermanno Casoli Prize. Solo exhibitions include N'importe où hors du monde, Chateaux de la Drome (2015), France; Here the Dreamers Sleep, Andersen Museum, ROME (2015); At the End of the Line, GAMEC, Bergamo (2014); and Le Cinque Giornate, Museo del Novecento, Milan (2011). His works have also been included in numerous group exhibitions across Europe and United States including: Museum of Art and Design, New York, MAXXI National Museum of the 21st century and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; B.P.S. 22, Charleroi; Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, Lausanne.
More Art is a New York-based nonprofit organization that fosters collaborations between professional artists and communities to create public art and educational programs that inspire social justice. It prioritizes community participation, and approaches critical issues respectfully and poignantly, while encouraging solutions-based dialogue and action. Projects are anchored by sustainable collaborations with grassroots organizations addressing social justice issues specific to their communities. Since its inception in 2004, More Art has presented 40+ indoor and outdoor public art installations and screenings in locations including Union Square, Sunset Park, and the West 4th Subway Station, among many others, with the world's most renowned contemporary artists, including Andres Serrano, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Joan Jonas, Pablo Helguera, and Ernesto Pujol.
Visit www.nysferatu.org for a sneak-peek into the film.