Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

Apr 4, 2024 at 8:00 pm

Relict: A Phantasmagoria

A conversation following the performance. & program with Melissa Ferrari & Colin Dickey in attendance. Presented in partnership with Science New Wave.

Doors 7:30p
Program 8:00p

352 Onderdonk Ave
Ridgewood, NY

We are delighted to welcome experimental animator, nonfiction filmmaker, magic lanternist and educator Melissa Ferrari to UnionDocs! Melissa will be performing her incredible experimental documentary Relict: A Phantasmagoria with antique magic lanterns and hand-drawn animation. 

Invoking the history of magic lantern phantasmagoria as an exercise in belief and perception, Relict considers the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, religion, and documentary ethics collapsed within contemporary cryptozoology. Adapting modern cryptozoological lore such as Bigfoot hunts and the Loch Ness Monster to hand-drawn magic lantern slides, Relict employs the visual language of magic lantern phantasmagoria through slides based on antique designs, including rackwork slides and dissolving views.

These pre-cinematic images are infused with the aesthetics of veracity in current nonfiction filmmaking, including CGI speculative animated documentary, thermal imaging, and interventions of rotoscoped documentary re-enactment. Inspired by the magic lantern’s historical role as a tool for scientific lectures, Relict wanders through histories of documentary animation used to visualize and legitimize monstrous creatures. The performance is nested in a collage of soundscapes, including interviews with Dr. Brian Regal (Kean University), a leading historian of science on the politics of skepticism in cryptozoology; a recent creationist sermon; and excerpts of pseudoscientific wildlife documentaries.

Jessi DiTillio sums up the awe-inspiring nature of Ferrari’s project in X-TRA:

“By featuring her own body as she produced the film, instead of hiding behind the curtain like the proverbial Wizard of Oz, Ferrari pointed to the sleight of hand essential to cryptozoology’s pseudoscience. This eccentric subject matter and its presentation—a combination of animation and found historic images—gelled perfectly, expressing how such fantastic images can mesmerize us even as we’re aware of their fabricated nature.”

Come through for the fantastical work as well as a conversation between Melissa and celebrated author Colin Dickey following the program.

This night is presented in partnership and with support from the great folks over at Science New Wave.  Check ’em out!


Relict: A Phantasmagoria by Melissa Ferrari

32 min, Two-channel experimental documentary expanded cinema performed with magic lanterns &hand-drawn animation projections.

[magic lantern projection, handmade wood, acrylic & film lantern slides, digital projection, pre-recorded audio]

cryptozoology noun
cryp·to·zo·ol·o·gy | \ ˌkrip-tə-zō-ˈä-lə-jē , -zə-ˈwä-\
The study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals (such as Sasquatch) usually inorder to evaluate the possibility of their existence.

Relict: A Phantasmagoria is an experimental documentary performed with antique magic lanterns and hand-drawn animation. Invoking the history of magic lantern phantasmagoria as an exercise in belief and perception, Relict considers the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, religion, and documentary ethics collapsed within contemporary cryptozoology.

Program Duration: 45 mins

Watch the conversation between Presenter1, Presenter2 and Presenter 3 on the UnionDocs’ Membership hub.


Melissa Ferrari is an experimental animator, nonfiction filmmaker, magic lanternist and educator who seeks to acquaint folklores of the past with contemporary culture. In exposing peripheral histories, she aims to unveil the wonder that lies in the shadow of nonfiction, rather than fiction. Her practice engages with the mythification of science and pseudoscience, the preternatural, and the history of phantasmagoria. Originally from Virginia, Melissa is now based in Los Angeles where she received an Experimental Animation M.F.A. from CalArts. Her films and magic lantern performances have been shown internationally in venues such as Hot Docs, Hauser & Wirth LA, Ottawa International Animation Festival, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival. Recent awards for her lantern shows and films include the 2023 Dick Balzer Award, the 2022 Damer E. Waddington Red Cabbage Award, and the 2020 Science Sandbox Symbiosis Award. As a documentary animator, Melissa specializes in handmade and experimental techniques. Her commissioned work has appeared on PBS, BBC, CNN, and The New York Times. Melissa teaches courses and workshops on animation & expanded cinema, and has been a lecturer at CalArts, Whittier College, Queens College, Cal State LA, and LACHSA. Melissa’s research focuses on the ethics and research methodologies of animated nonfiction.

Colin Dickey is the author of five books of nonfiction, including Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places; The Unidentified: Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession with the Unexplained; and, most recently, Under the Eye of Power: How Fear of Secret Societies Shapes American Democracy.

From the Event

Presented With

+ Get Tickets


The numbers below include tickets for this event already in your cart. Clicking "Get Tickets" will allow you to edit any existing attendee information as well as change ticket quantities.
Tickets are no longer available


Apr 4, 2024
8:00 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
Ridgewood, NY 11385 United States
+ Google Map

Support UnionDocs’ next phase and new building by becoming a member

Peek in the window of our bustling building in NYC and tune into the ideas and energy bubbling up from the UNDO Center.

Tune into cutting-edge, powerful and poetic documentary programs and connect to conversations with the artists and thinkers passing through.

Now available at the Apple Store.



Unlimited access to all of our monthly offerings for the price of two espressos.



Keep it simple and save. Unlimited access to our sweet offerings for a reduced, annual fee and receive some added benefits.



In the neighborhood, a working artist, student or senior? This membership is for you. Fill out a quick form for a discount code to an annual membership.



Get all of the benefits of the Annual UNDO Membership plus an annual subscription to UnionDocs Editions, a set of publications, merchandise or special objects.

UnionDocs is grateful for support from:

New limited editions out now!
Featuring the work of the UNDO Fellows.

FORMS OF ERRANTRY delves into the mesmerizing and haunting films of Miryam Charles and is edited by Lakshmi Padmanabhan. GEOLOGIC LISTENING centers the monumental and expansive work of filmmaker Deborah Stratman and is edited by Sukhdev Sandhu.

Pod Pod 2023 Group 02

Pod Pod is now accepting applications.
Apply today!

Calling all AUDIO MAKERS looking for a bit of motivation, peer support, collective production and a dose of inspiration for your personal project —  join us for 3 months this Fall!