April 2, 2007 -- Writer, director and producer Sandow Birk brings a literary classic alive in his animated film "Dante's Inferno," which will be shown at the Harrison Institute, Small Special Collections Library auditorium on Thursday, April 5, at 5 p.m. Birk will be on hand to answer questions about the film which was an official selection at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Sandow sets the stage for the story of Dante's travels through the underworld in contemporary urban surroundings — used car lots, strip malls, gated communities and the U.S. Capitol — interpreted through a live-action graphic novel style using hand-drawn paper puppets that portray contemporary politicians, presidents, popes and pop-culture icons.
With an emphasis on social issues, frequent themes of his past work have included daily life in L.A.’s barrios, 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 a Fulbright Fellow to Rio de Janeiro for 1997. In 1999 he was awarded a Getty Fellowship for painting. 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.”
The event is sponsored by the special lectures fund of the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese Department; the departments of religious studies, art, English, and media studies; the Robertson Media Center; and the University of Virginia Library.