Spiraling through ancient, painted faces, cartoon figures, and the now ubiquitous N95, the short film “Beyond Noh” by Patrick Smith sequences 3,745 masks in an entrancing rhythm. The individual images span multiple cultures and time periods and shift from one to the next with the beat of a hand drum.
A decades-long mask enthusiast, Smith photographed three-fourths of the works from museum archives, galleries, and his own collection, with the remaining segment submitted by folks around the world. “To me, masks are an interesting way to view humanity. It seems to me that every culture in the history of the world has participated in some form of mask making, whether it’s for performance, ritual, protest, or utility,” the director tells Colossal, noting that he finished the film just one month before the first outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States.
This month, “Beyond Noh” is screening at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Stuttgart Animation Festival, Florida Film Festival, and Mecal Barcelona Animation Festival. Watch an excerpt edited exclusively for Colossal above, and stream the full film on Smith’s YouTube channel with a paid subscription. (Thnx, Marcin!)