Once upon a time, long before Disney or Pixar, Lotte Reiniger ignited the world of animation with shadows, light, and a pair of magical scissors.


SHADOWMAKER is the feature length animated documentary born out of the short film LOTTE THAT SILHOUETTE GIRL. In 2018, the short film qualified for the Oscars, was shortlisted for an IDA Award, and was selected as one of the Hottest Shorts of Hot Docs.

“In the world it’s dark, we have to shine – you in your corner – I here in mine.” – Lotte Reiniger

A young film critic peers between the lines of history and the frames of animation to discover a shadowy figure: the groundbreaking artist Lotte Reiniger.

With shadows, light, and a pair of scissors, Lotte Reiniger creates the oldest feature-length animated movie, but when the Nazi Regime forces her out of Germany, Walt Disney emerges in her place, cutting her out of history. Decades later, a young film critic finds Lotte, depressed and impoverished, living in his hometown, and he sparks a resurgence of her work.

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In 1926 Berlin, Lotte creates THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, using her invention of the multiplane camera, a revolutionary new armature that animators still use today. Soon after, she begins making another epic feature, but this is tragically thwarted in 1935 when she and her husband Carl are forced to leave Germany by the rise of the Nazi regime.

Decades later, after Carl passes away, a grief-stricken Lotte becomes a recluse, never thinking she’ll make a film again, until a young film critic discovers the cinema pioneer is living in his hometown. He seeks out Lotte at her home in an artists’ co-living space outside of London, finding a depressed and impoverished elderly woman. The two develop a close relationship that reignites in Lotte a desire to make films again. And so in the last decade of her life, she creates two more films for Canada’s National Film Board, travels the world, and gives lectures and workshops about how to create silhouette animations.

Pushing the boundaries of traditional documentary, SHADOWMAKER weaves together reality and fantasy; telling a simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking true story with Lotte’s cinematic silhouette animation style and a fantastical folklore spirit.