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Synopsis: Jhene is lost in the dark nightmare of grief for her little sister, Xanthe. At dawn, Xanthe’s ghost rises from the belly of the monster of death and wakes Jhene. The sisters delight in each other until sunset when Xanthe’s ghost fragments and returns to the monster. In an attempt to bring Xanthe back to life, Jhene enters the monster’s mouth and gathers the pieces of her sister. Failing, Jhene cries. Her tears summon Xanthe’s ghost, who takes her sister on a journey. They ride out of the monster’s blowholes on waves of memory and gallop through the night on cloud ponies. However, the monster follows. Xanthe’s ghost encourages Jhene to look into the monster’s eyes. Seeing that the eyes of both Xanthe and the monster glow with the light of dawn, Jhene leaves the nightmare, opening her own eyes to the first light of a new day.



Run Time

8 minutes


Maren Montalbano (Jhene)
Jessica Beebe (Xanthe)

Directed by

Amy Lee Ketchum

Written by

Ellen Boscov

Produced by

Stephanie Gumpel


Ellen Boscov

Director's Statement

The story of “First Light” is revealed through a synthesis of music and art; a hybrid of traditional hand-cut puppet and hand-drawn 2d character animation with digital effects, and an original classical score. Its poetry is sung by Maren Montalbano and Jessica Beebe, vocalists in Grammy®Award-winning ensembles.

Director's Bio

Amy Lee Ketchum creates poetic narratives and abstract worlds in her animations which draw from personal and collective memory, metaphysical narratives, and dance. Her work has been shown on broadcast television, various international film festivals such as Animasivo in Mexico City, and on the Centre Pompidou web channel. Her works have also been exhibited at spaces such as the Boston Center for the Arts and been written about in publications such as LA Weekly and the New York Times Magazine. She has also animated commissions for clients such as the ACLU and the Atlantic. In conjunction with her studio practice, she is also a member of the Philadelphia art collective, Tiger Strikes Asteroid.

Exhibitions include the Boston Center for the Arts, Space 1026, and the Shelburne Museum (upcoming). Awards and Recognitions include: Animation on the Edge Top Prize, Los Angeles Animation Festival, and National Finalist, Student Academy Awards. Festival Screenings include Ottawa International Animation Festival, Animasivo, and the New York International Children’s Festival.

Production Year


Official Website

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