Do Donkeys Act?

D. Redmon & A. Sabin
March 2017


“Burned, beaten, abandoned, donkeys look back at us humans with indifference, and bray.” 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’S 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, laborer, trickster and fool), DO DONKEYS ACT elevates a denigrated and degraded beast to the role of lead actor and performance artist. To paraphrase Marina Abramovic, the donkey is present.



72 minutes
A film by: David Redmon & Ashley Sabin Narrated by: Willem Dafoe Produced by: Deborah & Dale Smith Colorist/Title Design: Daniel Stuyck Sound Designers/re-recording mixers: Tom Hammond, Wayne Bell, Miles Foster-Greenwood Foley Artist: Susan Fitz-Simon Still Photography: Meghan Brosnan Graphic Designer: Jesse Bussey Additional Sound Recording: Douglas Moffat Story Consultant: Marcy Garriott Post Production Sound Services: Soundcrafter Austin, TX Supported by the Leverhulme Trust

The Donkey projects have been supported by the Leverhulme Trust