Phantom City (2015)

Though Toronto’s Patrick Jenkins has maintained a steady career as an animator and experimental filmmaker for four decades, you’d be hard-pressed to find complete versions of any of his works online without a paywall restricting access. By and large, Jenkins has relied on screening his films at festivals, which are better suited to showcasing his intricate, labour-intensive shorts. Animation, of course, is always time-consuming, but as he notes in his interview in this issue of CAROUSEL, Jenkins does all of his own animation work; the only substantial outside artistic help he gets is with the musical score. The internet, with its notoriously short attention span and general deluge of creative content available for quick consumption, does a comparatively poor job of encouraging people to enjoy Jenkins’ films in the slow, deliberate way they were made. So, film festivals it is.

And yet, we’re happy to present to our readers Patrick Jenkins’ 2015 short film, Phantom City — available for viewing in its entirety below! Jenkins has generously allowed CAROUSEL to feature the full version of this wonderfully surreal neo-noir animation for a few reasons. Firstly, At Bay Press recently published Jenkins’ debut full-length graphic novel, Tales from Phantom City, and the film featured here is a companion piece: the film is decisively not mere promotional material, but a true artistic accompaniment to the graphic novel. It’s essential to see the film in its entirety to be able to appreciate its unique import. If that makes you also want to read the book, so much the better. Secondly, CAROUSEL agreed to not merely feature Jenkins’ film as a hasty content grab, but instead to present it carefully and lovingly, set alongside the aforementioned interview in this issue that encompasses the entirety of Jenkins’ career and sets Phantom City in proper context.

Read the interview, read a little more about Phantom City below and give yourself six-and-a-half uninterrupted, undistracted minutes to appreciate a short film that has occupied untold hours in the life of its maker.

Time: 6m32s
Technical Specs: 35mm, Digital Movie File, Dolby Stereo SR Sound, 1:1.78 aspect ratio, 16:9
Technique: Paint-on-glass animation

Synopsis: A tale is unfolding in the Phantom City. It’s on the screen of the local movie theatre; it’s in the coffee cup of a bemused man at the local diner. The premise of the story starts out simply enough: a man steals a woman’s suitcase and runs off with it. But things rapidly become stranger and more complicated … the suitcase travels time and space in improbable ways. If you think you know what’s coming next, you’re wrong. Bring your metaphysical spyglass along on this magic realist detective story that’s masquerading as a film noir with a classically jazzy score. As its characters slip through dimensions of reality, the hypnotizing animation style of Phantom City slips through the limits of genre.

Patrick Jenkins is an award-winning artist, film director and graphic novelist. His movies have been shown around the world. His first full-length graphic novel, Tales from Phantom City, was released in 2023 by At Bay Press. More on: Vimeo +