“Rebellious Bird” by Jennifer Levonian

Rebellious Bird is a fresh looking watercolor cut-out animation created by Philadelphia-based Jennifer Levonian. The documentary short ostensibly revolves around Wendy Ramsburg, an American Civil War reenactor who portrays women soldiers that disguised themselves as men, but the film also asks broader questions about gender roles in society, which Levonian smartly ties together with the story of Albert Cashier (as recounted in Spanish by her husband) and her own pregnancy. Levonian created the film during a one-year artist residency at The Library Company of Philadelphia with support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.

(Thanks, Greg Condon)


  • The Gee

    Several years ago, when Conan O’Brien was still doing his late show on NBC, they took an episode and remade it as a clay animation.

    The episode they chose wasn’t anything spectacular though. I had seen it and had a vague memory of it and for the life of me couldn’t think of how animating it straight would be worthwhile. If anything, they were going to have to plus the heck out of everything to make it worthwhile. Even though it was clay animation, surely there were things that could be done to make it visually funny.

    The end result was more or less straight. It didn’t add that much to it to make it funny. Perhaps seeing the episode for the first time as animation would have done the trick, but, to me, it seemed unlikely that it was funnier just because it was animated.

    A lot was put into the Rebellious Bird. I can see that. I can see how it plays as a different way of presenting a documentary. But, there were so many missed opportunities for letting the story be told visually. They didn’t even once show the reenactors (?) doing their thing. Heck, they even missed out on adding humor and charm to the interviewees descriptions of what she needed to do to pass as a man.

    It is cool it was commissioned. I hope all involved and who saw it were pleased. And, I know it took forever to do and a lot of work to do it; I can see that.

    I just figured it does deserve a comment since it is here. Mine might be the only one and I don’t think any subsequent one should be harsher than mine.