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Melissa Ferrari is an experimental animator, nonfiction filmmaker, magic lanternist and educator who seeks to acquaint folklores of the past with contemporary culture. In exposing peripheral histories, she aims to unveil the wonder that lies in the shadow of nonfiction, rather than fiction. Her practice engages with the mythification of science and pseudoscience, the preternatural, and histories of phantasmagoria and documentary.  Melissa also creates commissioned animation for documentaries, specializing in handmade animation for films addressing social issues.

Originally from Virginia, Melissa is now based in Los Angeles where she received an Experimental Animation M.F.A. from CalArts. Her films and magic lantern performances have been shown internationally in venues such as Hot Docs, Hauser & Wirth LA, Ottawa International Animation Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Slamdance and the Harvard History of Science Dept.  Melissa is a 2024 Contributing Artist at the Philosophical Research Society in LA.  In 2022-2023, she was an Artist in Residence at the Camera Obscura Arts Lab in Santa Monica, CA, the Larry Spring Museum of Common Sense Physics in Fort Bragg, CA, and the REDCAT NOW Festival Residency in LA.  Recent awards include the 2023 Dick Balzer Award, the 2022 Damer E. Waddington Red Cabbage Award, and the 2020 Science Sandbox Symbiosis Award at the Imagine Science Film Festival.

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Melissa teaches animation courses and workshops, specializing in nonfiction and experimental animation, as well as expanded cinema.  Previously, she was a lecturer at CalArts, Whittier College, Queens College, Cal State LA, and LACHSA, and taught a course in partnership with The Nature Conservancy at CalArts.  Melissa’s research focuses on the ethics and research methodologies of animated nonfiction.  She presented her research on animated documentary at the Ecstatic Truth Symposium in Lisbon and several Society for Animation Studies conferences.

As a documentary animator, Melissa's recent commissions include animations for the 2022 feature documentary The Voice of Dust & Ash, including animations for the original song Dust & Ash, which was shortlisted for the Academy Awards Best Original Song Oscar.  Her commissioned work has appeared on PBS, the BBC, & CNN.  Previously, Melissa worked as an animation artist at Dusty Studio in New York City, where her work was featured in The New York Times Op-Docs, The MoMA, Nautilus, & TED.

Please contact for documentary animation commissions & magic lantern shows.

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