DANA PLAYS          selected filmography • experimental films • documentaries • digital installations


(60:00, HD, 2013)


A post-modernist experimental documentary about the filmmaker’s great aunt, Ottilie Moore, who provided safe-haven for more than 300 Jewish children at villa L'Hermitage, including the artist Charlotte Salomon, during WWII in Villefranche sur-Mer, France. In-progress. (Material for the documentary has been presented as a two screen installation, entitled Rue de L’Hermitage, at Skolska Gallery in Prague, and at the Cannes Short Film corner, at the Cannes Film Festival in France, as a 30 minute short The Story of Ottilie Moore, Montage Segments).

child val
berg plane


(30:00 Documentary, 2013)

Documentary explores the history of sugar plantations conversion to tourism in the West Indies as told by native Antiguan, Ambassador and historian, Sir Keithlyn Smith.

Keithlyn oxen


(30:00min. Documentary, 2013)

Environmental advocacy documentary on the watersheds of Tampa Bay Region, and environmental activist achievements 2006-present. 

train port
bridge ship


(2012, 60min, HD)

French with English Subtitles)
Musicology documentary on making and workings of a pipe organ featuring concert organist Haig Mardirosian and designer Lynn Dobson.
road hands sister other


(10min, 2011, Digital Film)

This is a digital film re-edited with sound and a multi-generation of images to allude to the decay of cinema and the advancing of digital film.
Atlantic Pacific Prize, Ybor Film Festival 2010
Athens International Film and Video Festival, Ohio, Ruth Bradley Festival Director

Two Screen Installation, with sound). This is a series that continues the archival extract series (2008) material, re-edited with sound and a multi-generation of images to allude to the decay of cinema and the advancing of digital film.
•Exhibited at Skolska 28 Communication space and a shorter version presented at my master class at  FAMUFest, Praha, Czech Republic.




Installation Digital Loop (2010)
Dana Plays Filmed at the train station at Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, with the DSLR Canon Mark 5 D2 Camera Looped for exhibition on DVD.

Arriving / Departing pays homage to the first films created by the Lumière Brothers -- L'Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (1895) and Dziga Vertov’s train sequences in Man with a Movie Camera. In a recent trip to the Cannes Film Festival, I set out on the train to Villefranche sur-Mer (as Woman with a Movie Camera) with my camera and tripod to capture images of locations for The Sausage King’s Daughter (my feature film work in- progress about my great a Ottilie Moore, who sponsored the artist Charlotte Salomon, and others during WWII in the South of France). The visual aesthetics of these pictures explore both the magic of capturing a moving image on film (in this case digital) of train arriving and departing the train station, and secondly exploring the visual dynamics of overlay montage rich with potential visual metaphor.



 (30:00min, 2010)

Two Screen Installation with sound. New material shot at Rue De L’Hermitage, the site of the demolished Villa L’Hermitage, Villefranche sur Mer, and presented for the first time, was combined with a two screen segment series of photographs and text, and combined with images from Story of Ottilie Moore Montage Segments (2008), re-edited and occupied one of the screens in the second half of the installation.
• Exhibited at Skolska 28 Gallery, and re-edited as a shorter version for masterclass at FAMUFest, Praha, Czech Republic, and Joods/Jewish Museum, Amsterdam, Holland.



(2010, HD, 4:23)
silent two-channel Installation, pictures and text)
Historical photographs dissolving with crawl text on left screen with journal text on the right screen in block. Exhibited at Skolska 28 Communication space and a shorter version presented at my master class at  FAMUFest, Praha, Czech Republic.




(2008) LCD Installation HD Loop)
. Two Channel Digital Installation with Vertical three  Frame and horizontal monitors.
•Exhibited: C. Emerson Fine Arts, July 17-August 18, 2008. Exhibited at C. Emerson Fine Arts Gallery, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Funded by David Delo Research Fellowship, 2007-2008 by The University of Tampa, Tampa, Florida.

Archival Extract series (2008) LCD HD Installation Vertical Frames Series.

Cinema Triptych (2008) HD 2 min. (vertical screen composite)
cinema triptych

Villefranche Sur-Mer (2008) HD 1:50 min

Exquisite Corpse (2008) HD 2:23 min

softlanding (2008) HD 34 sec

Surface Tension (2008) HD 47 sec





21 minutes HD Digital Film
Produced, directed, shot, edited by Dana Plays.
•Screened at Cannes International Film Festival and Market, May 6-21, 2009, Cannes, France.
•Screened at  Cannes Film Festival, Shorts Corner, Cannes Film Festival, France, 2008; Nova 525, July 21, 2008, curated by Lori Johns of the C. Emerson Fine Arts Gallery, Tampa, Florida. Funded by Dana Summer Faculty Research Grants, The University of Tampa.


(2006) DV, 14 minutes

Director’s Citation, Black Maria Film Festival, 2007.



Rhizome (2006), 14 minute digital loop, 2006. Installed Digitally at Electronics Alive, Scarfone/Hartley Gallery, Tampa, Florida.




horse machine

 28:26 minutes, silent DVD Installation.
Evidence Is Everywhere [between gallery and cinema space] Playspace Gallery, San Francisco, California, September-October 2005.
Curated by Tanya Zimbardo, Media Curator for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Post Industrial Carnival, curated by Rosolinda 
Guest Curator Tanya Zimbardo, of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Salvage Paradigm 1 (2005), 10 minutes, silent
Screened, First Person Cinema, Boulder Colorado, October 2005.

 2001, 16mm, 22 minutes

girl on stairs  



“An arresting, deconstructed, yet nostalgic work that resonates with optically reprinted images from the 1950s. Vintage government films in which mannequins record the effects of nuclear blast experiments, science films depicting animal experiments, and home movies are interwoven so as to comment upon and recollect the notion of family during the era which gave birth to the nuclear age.” -John Columbus, Director, Black Maria Film Festival

“A haunting, emotional exploration of human isolation drawn from observational films – scientific films, documentation of animal-behavior experiments, and early preschool footage.”  -Kathy Geritz, Curator Pacific Film Archive

First Prize, Jurors’ Choice Award, Black Maria Film and Video Festival
Honorable Mention, Ann Arbor Film and Video Festival
First Prize Experimental Film Award, Empire State Film Festival
Pacific Film Archive
San Francisco Cinematheque
Athens International Film Festival
Women in the Director’s Chair Film Festival
Big Muddy Film Festival
Deep Ellum Film Festival
Savannah Film and Video Festival
Euro Underground Film Festival


1994, 16mm, 30 min



“The diaries and memories of her 90-year-old grandmother Peggy Regler create a complex portrait
  of one woman’s intimate experiences, and of a life spanning the twentieth century. Her autobiography emerges through formal references to early cinema, a historical moment which changed our conception of subjectivity.” – Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive
Peggy on Phone with Jack  
Director’s Choice, Black Maria Film Festival
16 Best Documentary, New Orleans Film Festival
Third Place Documentary, Big Muddy Film Festival
Pacific Film Archive
Montreal International Film Festival
Madrid Experimental Week
New York Underground Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Dutch National Television VPRO Broadcasting, Holland
Onion City Festival
Dresden Film Festival
Interfilm Festival, Berlin, Germany
Leipzig Documentary Festival, Germany
St. John’s  International Film Festival
Viper International Film Festival         



 1992, 16mm, 30 minutes


boy with shoe “The transgression and confrontation is re-enacted in this brilliant fuguelike film by Dana Plays constructed of found footage, and concerning both American involvement in oversees conflict and the resultant unseen plight of the child refugee. Subverting state-sponsored informational films on such issues as war bonds and highway safety, Plays transforms these agit-prop rhetorics into a celluloid mirror of transgression as a larger cultural pathology. In Zero Hour, the results – the products of war return to the initial cite of production: an assumed audience of Americans, middle–class citizens of an ideal suburban dream who have somehow foregone the immediate experiences and repercussion of mass destruction and displacement. The gaze rests on us. We are the sugar-stated, hyper and unaware violator, an audience whose relationship to world events is nowhere more homogenous than in or communal incubation and guilt.” - William Tester

Tom Berman Award, Ann Arbor Film Festival
Director's Citation, Black Maria Film Festival
Cash Award Sinking Creek Film Celebration
San Francisco  Cinematheque
Film Conference, University of Boulder


 Streaming Video Website

Streaming video of found footage of science experiments, animal behavioral studies. The digitized found footage with sound include clips from Survival City Utah, of Nuclear testing over a city constructed for destruction, with child and adult mannequins in the 1950s, and BF Skinner Behavior animal studies with scenes such as pigeons collecting rewards for winning at Ping-Pong.


 1998, BetacamSP Video, 30 minutes

Part two of the Love Stories My Grandmother Tells trilogy the video interweaves conversations in the internal setting of Peggy Regler’s apartment with the external daily walks to the corner market, as a metaphor for the conflict between the aging body and internal identity, as she reminisces about her childhood, rejection of her Orthodox Presbyterian upbringing, move towards philosophy and Buddhism, boarding school, first loves and the world of growing up as a debutante.


 1991, 16mm, 7 minutes

Millennium, NYC


1989, 16mm, 12 minutes




 family on stoop “A diaristic view of parts of Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. The Turkish family on their stoop, the woman on the train with her two pit bulls and an admirer, interiors, exteriors, the views from the train and the canals of the flat lands. Laid over are sound recorded at the same locations, providing correlating fragments of conversations, that Plays says are on “sidewalk life in Belgium and narratives of a beating heart, of a fish whose eggs are poisonous to both the rich and poor.” Here the recording properties of the camera and the microphone are the thing; people alternatively appear to react to and ignore the camera. There are objects, events and locations – it is left to the viewer’s intuition to secure the story.” - Stuart Cutlitz – Film Tape World

San Francisco Cinematheque


 1988, 16mm, 5 minutes


Joey BullTail

Shards parallels fragmentation and fragility through explorations that question ideas of wholeness in the film form.

San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival
San Francisco Cinematheque
San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery
Peralta College Television


 1986, 16mm, 6 minutes


Corbin and Dave Chess   "Via Rio is an ode to our human desire for relationship. The film tumbles through a series of relationships woven around one woman's narration of her parents' marriage. This woman (played by Lilian Mafra) is a fresh and fecund personality who relates the story of her mother's infidelities while sitting naked and pregnant in a garden. Interspersed around this narrative are a number of other scenes which feeds the complex nature of human interaction. Interaction that is sometimes comic, sometimes lonely, but as the very pregnant Mafra indicates-inevitably part of life.” -Frances DeVuono

Cash Award, Tour, Ann Arbor Film Festival
San Francisco Cinematheque
New Films '85, Koukosai Theatre
Humboldt State , Women's Film Festival  
No Nothing Cinema and Pagoda Palace


 1983, 16mm, 9 minutes



“Part dramatic narrative, part improvisation, Don’t Means Do, explores the personalities of two youngNiessa and Britannia with Naz girls, and someone they meet while out walking. It is a simple and genuine encounter, in the light of a  gentle afternoon between the moods of child and adult.” – David Heintz

Cash Award San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival
Humboldt State University, Women’s Film Festival
Ann Arbor Film Festival
San Francisco Cinematheque
No Nothing Cinema
Mills College
S.F. State University


 1984, 16mm, B & W, sound, 3 minutes

A coarse but intimate documentary of birth. The eight year old sibling is heard but not seen as she watches and reacts to her brother being born.

No Nothing Cinema
S.F. State University


 1982, 8 minutes




Eagles eating birds “In Across the Border, filmmaker Dana Plays expresses her lifelong commitment to the culture of Latin America.  More specifically, her film offers the viewer an unusual insight into the complex relationship between the people of El Salvador and the United States government. Completed in 1982, during a period in which many American artists were trying to convey their anger with their own country’s politics. Across the Border transcends the conventions of social documentary as we have come to know it through public television. Instead, Plays manipulates visual elements that compose the image through coloring and fragmentation. She uses this process of deconstruction to lead to a greater understanding of those “man-made” constructs that are responsible for the oppression she has witnessed. But Plays’ message is hardly dogmatic. The subtlety of her collage-like style suggests a very open message, giving the viewer the opportunity to enter the work as a thinking human being rather than a receptacle of one person’s point of view. Dana Plays’ personal involvement with the people of El Salvador follows in the tradition of a cross cultural awareness expressed by other women filmmakers such as Maya Deren (Haiti), Margaret Meed (Bali, New Guinea) and Chick Strand (Mexico).” – Lynne Sachs

Whitney Museum of American Art
First Prize Experimental Santa Fe Winter Film Expo
Bronze Award, Houston International Film Festival,
First Prize Experimental Universiade International Film Festival
Cash Award, Ann Arbor Film Festival
Cash Award, San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival
Edinburgh International Film Festival
Women in the Director's Chair Festival
WTTW Chicago
Baltimore International Film Festival
Anti-WW III Festival
SF Bay Area Showcase, SF International Film Festival, Pacific Film Archive KQED
San Francisco Cinematheque
East Meets West
University of Southern Florida
A.T.A., Other Cinema
Humboldt State University
Women's Film Festival
Pushing the Margins, Women in Experimental Film, Salt Lake City Utah
Women of the Americas Film Video Festival, U.C Theatre,
Festival of International and Progressive Film and Video


 1981, 16mm, color, sound, 4 minutes

Opticallly printed passages refer to analogies between memory and film.




Director's Choice, Sinking Creek Film Celebration
Cash Award
Ann Arbor Film Festival Tour
No Nothing,
Mills College
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco State University


(6:00 min. 16mm, 1978/2012)
Restoration Print Academy Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Ann Arbor 50th Retrospective


“Another entirely structural film is Grain Graphics, which begins with two frames of a film strip, on above the other, occupying the middle of the screen, flanked by two vertical filmstrips with smaller frames. In grainy negative, a small number of figures interact in various ways in each of the frames. Gradually, as if the camera were drawing away, this pattern grows smaller and its units increase correspondingly in number, until at the end there appear to be hundreds of rectangles, all with figures busy in motion.” – Edgar Daniels, Filmmakers Monthly

First Prize San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival
First Prize Poetry Film Festival
Cash Award, Sinking Creek Film Celebration
University Film Association National Conference, Austin Texas
NYU Experimental Film Workshop
Eye Gallery
Mills College
Philadelphia College of Art



 1978, 16mm, color, sound, 6 minutes


Filmed at Crow Agency, Montana.

Honorable Mention, San Francisco Art Institute Film Festival
Capp Street Project, Souvenir Highway
Ann Arbor Film Festival
American Indian Film Festival
San Francisco Cinematheque
New York University

contact Dana Plays

Contact Dana Plays at  <>

from Dana Plays or

Canyon Cinema
145 Ninth Street, Suite 260
San Francisco, CA 94103
phone/fax: 415-626-2255
Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm

Film-Maker's Cooperative
c/o The Clocktower Gallery
108 Leonard Street, 13 Floor
New York, NY 10013
phone: 212-267-5665
fax: 212 267 5666

Or, contact Dana Plays directly for all titles.

Dana Plays IMDB
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Dana Plays

Shooting with her digital JK Optical Printer.


carriage Dana Plays subverts “informational films into a celluloid mirror of transgression as a larger cultural pathology” constructing a “haunting, emotional exploration of human isolation.” Narrativity emerges through  "formal references to early cinema" that weave autobiography with the "historical moment which changed our conception of subjectivity.” (from notes by Kathy Geritz and William Tester)

Dana Plays' films have exhibited internationally at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art; the San Francisco Cinematheque at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; the Pacific Film Archive at the University Art Museum; Filmforum at Lace and the Egyptian Theater; Millennium Film Workshop; Seattle International Film Festival; Montreal Nouveau Film Festival; Leipzig Documentary Film Festival, and more. Her films have garnered numerous film festival awards including Juror's Choice Award at the Black Maria Film Festival, for Nuclear Family; Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the Ann Arbor Film Festival for Zero Hour; Best Documentary at the New Orleans Film Festival for Love Stories My Grandmother Tells; and Best Experimental Film at the Huston International Film Festival for Across the Border, among others.