Prairie Puppet Underground



What do a lonely bus rider, microscopic puppets, and punk tumours have in common? The prairie, where “nothing ever happens.” Prairie Puppet Underground proves this wrong with a new collection of puppet films.

PPU is a collective of indie Saskatchewan artists creating and exhibiting puppetry on screen. Stay for a Q&A with directors Chrystene Ells, Berny Hi, Kenn McLeod, and Rowan Pantel.

Catch these artists in panels and workshops: Thursday Thinking Panel (Chrystene Ells, Kenn McLeod), Puppetry for Green Screen (Berny Hi, Chrystene Ells), Breakfast with Sleepy Artists Panel (Berny Hi, Rowan Pantel)

UPF_Starbright_GSaul‘Star Bright, Meagre Might’ by Gerald Saul (3min) – Shrunken to a microscopic size, Canister the Robot’s infinitesimal invasion from another world to conquer a new sarcastic one-celled nemesis. Puppeteered by Gerald Saul and Geremy Lague with 1/250 scale 2D jointed figures, the film was shot under a Zeiss laboratory microscope using high precision dissection tools.

Gerald Saul is a professor in the Department of Film at the University of Regina. He has created over two hundred films ranging from feature length to under one minute. He can frequently be found with a bucket of photo chemistry under one arm or an empty bucket on his head.




UPF_FadetoGray_RPatel‘Fade to Gray’ by Rowan Pantel (4min) – This film follows the anonymous life that an elderly woman lives as she leaves her lonely house to ride on a city bus.

Rowan Pantel is a Saskatchewan based visual artist and puppeteer, and she is one of the founding members of the Prairie Puppet Underground.​



PPU_TheFirstEngine_ICampbell_page19‘The First Engine’ by Ian Campbell (4min) – At the dawn of the 20th century the horse was supplanted by a new means of power. A working mare named Henrietta is startled to find this new invention making itself known across the prairies. Soon it will make its presence felt in a most radical way.



UPF_ItWontBeLong_Eric‘I Won’t Be Gone Long’ by Eric Kanius and Chelsea Slessor-Smith (3min) – Rancher Gloria reminisces about a life changing moment from her younger life in Saskatchewan while waiting for her husband to return home from Vancouver.

Filmmaker Eric Kanius and artist Chelsea Slessor-Smith are a major component of Split the Bill, an independent film troupe creating tons of films to better their talents and have some fun.


UPF_Dolly_BHi‘Dolly’ by Berny Hi (3min) – A handmade doll helps a man decide whether or not to have children of his own.

Berny Hi is endlessly fascinated by the cosmos and aspects of the human experience: beauty, sensation, and our unique perception of time and space.




PPU_TheWarEffort_KMacleo‘The War Effort’ by Kenn McLeod (2min) – In the summer of 1943, two young friends attempt their own mischievous brand of war profiteering. Based on a true story.

Hailing from Regina Saskatchewan, Kenn McLeod is a performer, director, and educator that is always on the lookout for new ways to expand his theatrical repertoire.



UPF_StudyforPaintingSunflowers_JRiess‘Study for the Painting Sunflowers’  ​by Jessica Reiss, (2min) – ​Based on a poem of the same name, written by Tracy Hamon, this ekphrastic work peeks into the anxiety of voyeurism and the gaze through puppetry and the art of poetry.

Jessica Reiss is a multi-media artist living in Regina, Saskatchewan.




UPF_ParathyroidPunk_CElls‘Parathyroid Punk’ by ​Chrystene Ells (3.5min) – A swaggering punk parathyroid tumour puppet boasts about the hell he causes. After being sick for a decade, in 2013 Chrystene was finally diagnosed with a life-threatening parathyroid tumour in her neck. Now post-op, healthy, and turning to cinema for catharsis, Chrystene’s ‘medu-tainment’ film has already helped others get diagnosed.

Chrystene loves life, making stuff, having adventures and conducting experiments. Mostly she loves to do these things with other people.​



UPF_She_JZhang‘She’ by Jingyi Zhang (4min) – A story about how social institutions and other powers assimilate and form different individuals, especially women, towards same standards.

Jingyi Zhang is a graduate film student in University of Regina. Her research field is matriarchal communities and documentary.   |   www.   |





Posted on

January 31, 2015