By Keisha Martin

Chris Sullivan, a Pittsburgh born filmmaker and professor at The Art Institute of Chicago, brought his uniquely innovative and emotionally touching animated film, Consuming Spirits, to the Athena Cinema last night. Sullivan’s work is a truly original creation that is all of his own. A former student of Sullivan describes him as “a genuine arthouse polymath. He slices. He dices. He does it all.”

Consuming Spirits is a feature-length animated film shot in 16mm that seamlessly combines three different styles of animation. It switches from tracing paper drawings, cut-out multi-plane puppets, and scale models. The different animation styles heighten the audience’s experience as we travel through this psychological drama of three different individuals’ superficial working relationship and the true hidden connection between them all.

Being a teacher, Sullivan guides his students to embrace and live in their weird sides. He tells them to embrace their weirdness and use it as a tool to build and sculpt their art with. “Chris uses his own madness as a sculpting tool (for his art).” Sullivan’s student expresses his gratitude for his teachings and the sense of belonging. “It's okay to be weird. Sometimes it's hard; but you don't mean to do it. But you're born that way. He taught me that weird is beautiful.”

Sullivan is a featured artist at the festival and also serves on its jury. The 46th Athens International Film and Video Festival will continue on in the Athena Cinema in Athens, Ohio until Sunday.