David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s Do Donkeys Act – filmed over 5 years – subtly subverts the notion of the “dumb beast” as it captures donkeys communicating emotionally with each other in the midst of healing from human cruelty and neglect. A poetic text threads through scenes “acted” by donkeys, a rhythmic script commentary voiced by Willem Dafoe.
Do Donkeys Act is ethno-poetic-animal-fiction takes its playfully self-reflexive cues from Jean Rouch and Chris Marker. Encouraging us to respect a major language barrier we might not otherwise consider––the mystery and intrigue of donkey utterances – Do Donkeys Act invites us to "step into their shade, listen closely" as we attune to a series of dramatic performances in which we eavesdrop on donkeys speaking amongst themselves. Reclaiming the donkey from the indignity of a centuries old master slave relationship in which the dominant image of the donkey has been negative (stubborn, buffoon, jackass, laborer, trickster and fool), Do Donkeys Act elevates a denigrated and degraded beast to the role of lead actor and performance artist. To paraphrase Marina Abramovic, the donkey is present.
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