Legend has it that an extraordinary event occurred in the late 19th century in a native village of the southern Mexican highlands. A community of deeply oppressed people rose up in revolt and claimed a Christ child from their own ranks. Filmed in Chiapas Mexico, ‘The Stag’s Mirror’ is an allegorical response to this intricate story described in Rosario Castellano’s novel, The Book of Lamentations. Operating at the borderlines of documentary and experimental film this piece offers an alternative to the kind of documentary that either valorizes its subjects or extinguishes their power through patronizing assumptions.  Structurally, ‘The Stag’s Mirror’ utilizes various realistic and non-realistic devices and a shifting temporal emphasis between foreground and background movement.  The film combines footage of Chiapan life with animation, spoken text, and un-synched sound. Both the visual and aural components of this film interrogate conventional narrative structure and how this is represented in documentary film.  In uncoupling the relationship between sound and image, the film attempts to capture an essence of place and history rather than communicating it directly.

The Stag’s Mirror’ is comprised of five separate films that I first edited and then re-composited as a single whole.  The voice-over is written as a fusion of words and phrases taken from two sources: Rosario Castellano’s , The Book of Lamentations, 1962, and Guillermo Garcia Villasenor’s essay, “Chiapas a Contrapelo” (Chiapas Against the Grain), 2006. This interlacing of material generates associations and implications beyond simple interpretation

© Bishee Media Productions, XII - V - MMXVII

This film is available with Spanish subtitles

Directing/Editing/Script: Robin Starbuck

Original Music: John Yannelli

Field Producer: Scott Duce

Voice and Flute: Emily Cardwell

Spanish Voice: Alba Coronel

Camera: Scott Duce, Robin Starbuck

Primary Participants: Juana Romirez Gomez, Carolina Gomez Hernandez, Javier Romirez Lopez, Selina Romirez Gomez

Sound Mix: John Yannelli, Robin Starbuck

Assistant Camera: Jeremiah Davis, Hannah Rifkin, Tori Himes

Animation: Robin Starbuck

Text Translations: irene Alberty-Cardona

Release: 2017


XVI Cine Pobre, Cuba, Best Self Funded Experimental Film, April 2018

Meraki Film Festival, Madrid, Spain, Finalist 2018

High Bar Film Festival, Washington State, January 2018

Experimental Forum, Los Angeles, CA, Honorable Mention, November 2017, Award Honorable Mention

Madrid Art Film Festival, Madrid, Spain, preselected September 2017

Collected Voices, ethnographic film festival, Chicago, IL, October 2017

Shawna Shae Film Festival Festival, Southbridge, CN, October 2017, Award Best Experimental Film

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival, Middlebury, VT, August 2017

Frostbite Film Festival, Springs, CO, June 2017, Award Best Experimental Film

Na Bolom Museum and Research Center, San Cristobal de las Casas, MX, July 2017

Cinema El Puente, San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, March 2017

Preliminary screening, Ethnografilm, Paris, France, April 2017

Screening in festivals now. For information regarding screening this film please contact: starbuckrobin@gmail.com

Vermont Symphony Orchestra VSO award

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra [VSO], presents this annual award to a filmmaker whose selection and incorporation of original music into their film displays the highest potential for future success. Robin Starbuck has been awarded the VSO Award in response to her 2017 film, “The Stag’s Mirror”.

With the 2017 award the Vermont Symphony Orchestra pairs filmmaker Robin Starbuck with rising composer, Matt LaRocca, to pair her new film, How We See Water, with original music. A live performance of the original score will take place during the debut screening of Starbuck’s new film at the 2018 Fall Vermont New Filmmakers Festival in Middlebury, Vermont.  “Through this remarkable partnership, two wildly creative artists will work on a collaborative project to elevate the role of music as a singular and critical component in a film.”  This partnership highlights the orchestra’s commitment to empower and nurture new commissions continuing the mission of innovation and exploration.

The awarding panel consisted of Vermont Symphony Orchestra Music Director, Jaime Laredo; New Music Advisor, David Ludwig; Executive Director, Benjamin Cadwallader; members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra; and a Vermont-based composer.

This collaboration between the VSO and MNFF recognizes and celebrates excellence in music composed specifically for film and fosters a creative relationship between filmmakers and rising composers. “We are extraordinarily pleased to be collaborating with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra on this highly innovative initiative,” said Lloyd Komesar, Middlebury Filmmakers New Festival Producer.


The Stag’s Mirror
Trailer:   https://vimeo.com/220164412https://vimeo.com/220164412http://livepage.apple.com/shapeimage_3_link_0
MAKING OF THE STAG’S MIRROR: https://vimeo.com/221667335https://vimeo.com/221667335https://vimeo.com/221667335shapeimage_4_link_0

“This film was greatly enjoyed.  It was one of our most complex films  and generated great questions from the audience.” Collected Voices, Chicago


Vermont Symphony Orchestra VSO Award
Best Experimental Film, Shawna Shae Film Festival
Best Experimental Film, Frostbite Film Festival
Best Self Funded Film, XVI Cine Pobre Cuba
Honorable Mention, Experimental Forum Los Angeles