Animated Film Adaptation of Dante's Inferno to Screen at U.Va.

February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008 — The University of Virginia's Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese will host a screening of writer, director and producer Sandow Birk's animated film version of "Dante's Inferno" on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library auditorium.

"Dante's Inferno" has been a part of the world literary scene for more than 700 years, but never before has it been interpreted with exquisitely hand-drawn paper puppets and brought to life using hand-made special effects — that is, until now. This literary classic is retold by artist and filmmaker Sandow Birk in an apocalyptic-graphic-novel-meets-Victorian-era-toy-theater interpretation. Dante’s hell is brought to lurid three-dimensional, high-definition life in a darkly comedic travelogue of the underworld, ¬set against an all-too-familiar urban backdrop of used-car lots, gated communities, strip malls and the United States Capitol. The contemporary cast is propagated with reprobates, including famous¬ and infamous¬ politicians, presidents, popes, pimps and the Prince of Darkness himself.

With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of Birk's past work have included daily life in the barrios of Los Angeles, inner-city violence, graffiti, political issues, surfing and skateboarding. His work has been shown extensively throughout the United States. He was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996, and traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1997. He was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting in 1999. Birk's epic, pseudo-historical series of the "The Great War of the Californias," in which Los Angeles and San Francisco wage all-out war for control of the Golden State, was featured at the Laguna Art Museum in 2000. His latest project, with co-author Marc Sanders, is a three-book series of Dante's "Divine Comedy."

For information, contact Italian professor Deborah Parker at (434) 924-6454 or For information about the film and to view the trailer, visit
Sandow Birk will be in Charlottesville March 6 and 7 for a showing of his "Depravities of War," large-scale woodcut prints inspired by Goya's famous series and the invasion of Iraq. The exhibit will be held at the Second St. Gallery, with a preview on March 6 and the public opening on March 7.