Stacey Steers / United States / 2017 / 17:15

Edge of Alchemy is a great visual and imagination accompanied with the music and sound design.
Minikino Film Week 4
Jury's note

Director Biography – Stacey Steers

Stacey Steers is known for her process-driven, labor-intensive animated films composed of thousands of handmade works on paper. Her recent work employs images appropriated from early cinematic sources, from which she constructs original, lyrical narratives.
Steers’ films have screened widely at venues including the Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, New Directors New Films (New York), IFFR Rotterdam, Locarno IFF, MoMA and the National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC). Recently she has expanded her work to include collaborative installations that join invented, three-dimensional production elements with film loops, creating a new context for experiencing her films.

Stacey Steers is a recipient of major grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital and the American Film Institute. She lives and works in Boulder, CO.

  • 2017 EDGE OF ALCHEMY (19:00 color, stereo sound, 35mm to 4K)
  • 2011 NIGHT HUNTER (16:00 color, stereo sound, 35mm to HD)
  • 2006 PHANTOM CANYON (10:00 B&W, stereo sound, 35mm)
  • 1999 TOTEM (11:00, stereo sound, 35mm)
  • 1989 WATUNNA (24:00, stereo sound, 16mm)


Director Statement
Edge of Alchemy is constructed from 6500 handmade collages. Those collages combine images of silent-era actors that are appropriated from silent-era films and fragments of 19th century engravings and illustrations. The construction process is intuitive and organic: I select motion sequences from

early cinematic sources, prints the frames and re-contextualize the action, allowing the ‘story’ assembled from appropriated images to evolve over time. I insert my actors into newly imagined collage environments, built by hand from fragments of 19th century engravings and illustrations and then photographed in sequence. Edge of Alchemy was 5 years in the making. I’m very interested in process and how it resonates through any project. There is something about the physical process of creating my animation – cutting found images, placing one beneath another or cutting into something to bring an earlier layer to the surface – that mimics for me the way we
process experience and form memories. I find creating my films in the way I currently do psychologically liberating and find that using this process has made my work more personal and intimate. The technique itself also carries a kind of hyper-intensity that is a result of the flickering of all the image elements. The field of the film becomes energized. In animation we refer to that as “breathing”, which implies that the images have their own life force in some sense. One of things I have learned working over time in this way, is that there is a charge to the displacement of the actors that occurs when I remove them from the original frame or bring unanticipated objects into a pre-existing space in a film. The Surrealists talk about this same idea and use it as a strategy. Like them, my working process is intuitive and allows for the unconscious and non- rational to play a role. I unite elements with no obvious shared context and try to create an atmosphere where their alignment feels somehow natural and poetically sound. I think when I first started using these images of early silent film actors, it never really occurred to me, exactly how expressive they could be. I was attracted to them and to an emotional immediacy I felt coming from them, but the discoveries I made about what I can focus on and utilize when I’m working with them, have continued to surprise me. I tend to like to find more ambiguous moments, because those interest me, and I’m drawn to actors who liked to add psychological complexity to their performances. My collage technique makes it possible for me to linger over very fleeting expressions and extend them in a way that emphasizes a state of interiority I am interested in exploring. I’m curious about the nature of longing and how it provokes and mediates experience. In the case of Edge of Alchemy, there is also a sense of the complexity of the world pushing against the desires of the protagonist. She has the power to create but not to control her creation. Leonora Carrington said for an artist, the task of one eye is to look through telescope, the other to look through the microscope. I try to remember that when I make my work.

Additional Details
Director, Writer, Producer: Stacey Steers

Key Cast: Mary Pickford (the scientist), Janet Gaynor (the creature)

Animation: Stacey Steers

Music / Sound Design: Lech Jankowski

Editor: Antony Cooper

Color Correction: Patrick Lindenmaier

Sound: Lech Jankowski, Phil Solomon

35mm Camera: Victor Jendras

Film Type:Animation, Experimental, Short

Genres:Drama, Women, Science Fiction

Runtime:17 minutes 15 seconds

Completion Date:March 21, 2017

Country of Origin:United States

Country of Filming:United States

Shooting Format:35mm to 4K

Aspect Ratio: 4:3

Film Color: Color

Screening s & Awards
  • 21.03.2017 * 55th ANN ARBOR FILM FESTIVAL (Competition, World Premiere, Ann Arbor, USA)


  • 05.04.2017 * 60th SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Shorts 3: Animation, San Francisco, USA)
  • 20.04.2017 * 49th NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL (Experimental Short Section, Nashville, USA)


  • 18.05.2017 * 2017 SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (Competition, Seattle, USA)
  • 08.08.2017 * 70th LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL (Leopards of Tomorrow, Locarno, Switzerland)
  • 01.09.2017 * 44th TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL (Official Selection, Telluride, USA)
  • 30.10.2017 * DOK Leipzig 2017 (International Competition Short Documentary and Animated Film, Leipzig, Germany)
  • 09.11.2017 * AFI FEST 2017 (Official Selection, Los Angeles, USA)
  • 13.11.2018 * Minikino Film Week 4 , Bali International Short Film Festival