The Case of the Vanishing Gods, plus The Great Gabbo in 16mm

Ross Lipman, James Cruze · 2021 & 1929
166min · DCP & 16mm
  • Wednesday, Nov 1, 2023, 7:00pm

The new work by Ross Lipman (NOTFILM), THE CASE OF THE VANISHING GODS is a fable out of time told with artist-made puppets and archival film clips, a new kind of hybrid: half dream / half document. Under hypnosis, a tortured ventriloquist’s dummy recovers his lost memories, which relate a cultural history of ventriloquism from the prophetic tradition to the modern horror film. The entire tale is embedded in a frame paying homage to a vintage sci-fi TV series, while at the same time breaking down standard notions of film genre. Join this tragic hero on his strange journey into the hidden lives of puppets, and the collective unconscious that links them to our own lives.


The Case of the Vanishing Gods is in turn fun, funny, deeply disturbing, and always provocative: a commentary on the fakery of cinema and the desire for fakery that makes it all possible. It’s almost as acidic as it is terrifying.” Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Best 10 Films of 2022,” Screen Slate

“[Ross Lipman is] One of the most original essay film artists now working in the US. I don’t know another body of work even remotely similar to his.” Thom Andersen, filmmaker/historian, Los Angeles Plays Itself

Plays with: THE GREAT GABBO (1929) on 16mm. Erich von Stroheim, in one of his most unhinged roles, is a talented but abusive ventriloquist who becomes one with his dummy, Otto, when driven mad by unrequited love. A bizarre, uncategorizable early sound film; a horror-tinged melodrama with strange but spectacular musical numbers.