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A story about family that will catch you off guard

Oscar winner, Chris Cooper 


HBO’s The Sopranos, Marianne Leone  

“Moving…brilliant animation and story…made us laugh and cry."

Nancy Fichman

writer, showrunner, producer. Co-creator of Apple-TV's original series "High Desert"

“Monster in a Dress” takes you on an unexpected ride. A heartbreaking, inventive tale of resilience and the enduring power of the human spirit. 

Heidi Pitlor

editor, Best American Short Stories

"Monster in a Dress" does nothing less than create a new medium to tell an urgent story that is both timely and timeless. Drawing, text, animation, sound, and video work in perfect harmony and the result is a groundbreaking experience for the viewer, one that explores the most important questions about the secrets we inherit from our family and how these inform our identities. In a time when compassion and understanding are in short supply, "Monster in a Dress" should be required viewing for anyone with a beating heart.

Thomas Dolby

musician, producer, composer

"Inventive and very quirky, the music is a perfect compliment to the story and sometimes hilarious animation." 

Helen Elaine Lee

author, Pomegranate

Visually compelling and unforgettable, “Monster in a Dress” is a work of bravery and emotional truth.  The story unfolds through singular imagery, distinctly rendered characters, and an amalgam of raw honesty and tenderness.  It is filled with unexpected visual delights and intriguing stories within stories. I was deeply moved by its evocation of the power and complexity of family bonds and histories, the pain of exclusion, and the healing force of a grandmother's love.  

Annie Weatherwax

Creator and Director

Annie Weatherwax spent her early career as an artist sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters. Included in her portfolio are characters from Nickelodeon, DC Comics, and Pixar. Winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction, her debut novel, All We Had, was a finalist the Massachusetts Book Award and is now a major motion picture from Tribeca Films. In 2017 she received The Hamilton Life Achievement Award for individuals with dyslexia. She has written extensively on the link between language and visual art including for Publishers Weekly and The New York Times. She was recently the inaugural fellow at New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson’s Lost and Found Lab. Character sketches and stories from her collection “Odd Balls and Relationships,” are forthcoming in Ploughshares Magazine. 


about the film

I was a girl who didn’t act like one and the film’s title, “Monster in a Dress,” reflects how I felt as a kid every time I was made to wear one.


This semi-autobiographical story is about identity and survival wrapped inside a larger story of an immigrant family and how one powerful matriarch kept her clan together, forged a way forward, and along the way saved the life of a vulnerable grandchild (me). It examines the trials and tribulations of intergenerational trauma and healing when a long buried family secret is brought to light. 


The piece grew out of a series of character sketches that started to take on a familiar feel. It wasn’t until my fourth or fifth drawing that I realized I was drawing a version of my own extended family. (These original pencil drawings--twenty-three in all--are available to show alongside any potential screening)From these drawings, I found theme music for each character; music that told me something about who they are, their dynamics, and how they should move. This music became the temporary track from which the score was created. 

“Monster in a Dress” is a short story with moving parts. Built with Apple’s Keynote presentation software, it makes use of kinetic typography, animation, archival imagery and live action images. The piece is narrated by myself to recreate the intimacy of being read to and the  elements have been carefully orchestrated to immerse the audience in the experience of the story.  

Debra Barsha


DEBRA BARSHA won the Jonathan Larson Award for the score to Radiant Baby, (Public Theater) directed by George C. Wolfe.  Composer credits: Songs From an Unmade Bed (NYTW), A Taste of Things to Come (with Hollye Levin, York Theatre). and her two one-woman shows Go To Your Womb and A Womb With a View (CAP21/Cherry Lane Theatre). Barsha originated roles and was the music director for the original off-Broadway companies of both Tony ‘N’ Tina’s Wedding and Charles Busch’s Swingtime Canteen. Music Director/Conductor: Steven Sater/Serj Tankian’s world premiere of Prometheus Bound (ART - dir. Diane Paulus),  Karen O’s psycho opera Stop the Virgens! At St. Ann’s Warehouse and at the Sydney Opera House. Vocal arrangements: Yeah Yeah Yeah’s single Sacrilege and Lea DeLaria’s album House of Bowie. Associate Conductor: Broadway’s Jersey Boys and Summer: The Donna Summer Musical. Piano for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.

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