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, labourer, trickster and fool). The film 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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