Jay Rosenblatt Films - Locomotion Films
The Kodachrome Elegies When You Awake The Darkness of Day The Claustrum The D Train Phantom Limb Human Remains The Smell of Burning Ants King of the Jews Period Piece I Just Wanted to Be Somebody Beginning Filmmaking I Used to Be a Filmmaker The Films of Jay Rosenblatt - Vol 1 The Films of Jay Rosenblatt - Vol 2
The Smell of Burning Ants
a film about gender, male socialization
and boyhood cruelty

Written and directed by Jay Rosenblatt
21 minutes • 16mm • color/B&W • 1994

Winner of 23 Awards

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male. It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness.

Through formative events of a boy’s life, we come to understand the ways in which men can become emotionally disconnected and alienated from their feminine side. The common dismissal that “boys will be boys” evolves into the chilling realization that boys frequently become angry, destructive and emotionally disabled men. The Smell of Burning Ants illustrates how boys are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film is a catalyst for discussion and an opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds of childhood.

View study guide


“Powerfully and poetically evokes the emotional strains of modern masculinity. A provocative catalyst for classroom discussion.”
– Dr. Ed Cohen, Associate Professor, Gender & Cultural Studies, Rutgers University

“A visually compelling and thought provoking portrait of the cultural and psychological transmission of male identity in young boys. With vivid and penetrating images, this film tells the story of child-hood innocence lost and of wounded masculinity found in its wake.”
– Harvey L. Schwartz, PhD., Clinical Psychologist

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
– Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

“This film is an invaluable catalyst for discussion and reflection for men’s groups, therapy groups, seminars and workshops. The film goes deep under the surface of masculinity to the roots of male violence and despair.”
– Franklin Abbot, LCSW, author of New Men, New Minds: Men and Intimacy and Boyhood: Growing Up Male


Grand Prize, Hamburg Film Festival
Best of Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival
Best of Festival, Humboldt Film Festival
First Prize, Short Films, Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
First Place, Film, Athens International Film and Video Festival
Best of the Best, Charlotte Film Festival
First Prize, Film, VIPER Experimental Media Festival, Switzerland
Best Experimental Film, Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia
Best Experimental Film, Sinking Creek Film Festival
Best Experimental Film, Big Muddy Film Festival
Best Documentary, Tampere Short Film Festival, Finland
First Prize, Independent Film, Marin County Fair
Silver Medal, Carolina Film & Video Festival
Artistic Courage Award, Florida Film Festival
Second Prize, Copenhagen Film + Video Workshop Festival, Denmark
Audience Choice Award, Onion City Film Festival
Doug Haynes Memorial Award, Onion City Film Festival
Second Place, Experimental Film, Central Florida Film Festival
Bronze Award, New York Film Expo
Honorable Mention, Vila do Conde Shorts Film Festival, Portugal
Honorable Mention, San Francisco International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Atlanta Film and Video Festival
Special Mention, Nyon Visions du Reel Film Festival, Switzerland


Sundance Film Festival
London Film Festival
Hong Kong Film Festival
Cracow International Short Film Festival, Poland
Montreal Festival International du Nouveau Cinema
FilmVideo 95, Montecatini, Italy
Wellington Film Festival, New Zealand
Pacific Film Archive
San Francisco Cinematheque
Denver International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Cleveland International Film Festival
Film Arts Festival, San Francisco
Outfest, Los Angeles
International Golden Calf Awards Film Festival, Sacramento
Artists Television Access, San Francisco
Film Forum, Los Angeles
The Arsenal, Berlin
The Pleasure Dome, Toronto
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris
Onion City Film Festival, Chicago
Chicago Filmmakers, Chicago
Zeitgeist Theatre, New Orleans
Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival, Brazil
Hamburg Filmfest, Germany
Auckland Film Festival, New Zealand
European Media Art Festival, Osnabruck, Germany
V'IENNALE Film Festival, Austria
Boston Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival, California
Umea Film Festival, Sweden
Vancouver International Film Festival
Semana Internacional de Cine de Valladolid, Spain
Cork International Film Festival, Ireland
Hamburg Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Germany
Olympia Film Festival, Washington
International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Stuttgart Filmwinter Festival, Germany
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
University of Colorado, Boulder
Mardi Gras Film Festival, Sydney, Australia
De Filmplaneet Festival, Gent, Belgium
L'Alternativa '96, Barcelona, Spain
11 Days of Film, Augsburg, Germany
Fringe Film Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland
IMPAKT Festival, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Boston Jewish Film Festival
Scratch Cinema, Paris
CinemaTexas, Austin
Film Forum, New York (one-week run)
Roxie Cinema, SF (one-week run)
Fine Arts Theatre, Berkeley (one-week run)
Rafael Film Center, San Rafael (one-week run)
Varsity Theater, Seattle (one-week run)
Facets Theatre, Chicago (one-week run)


Written, directed, edited and rephotographed by Jay Rosenblatt
Original music: Erik Ian Walker (wackoworldmusic.com)
Creative consultant & sound editing: Jennifer Frame
Voice-over narration: Richard J. Silberg


Institutional/Group Use

DVD Sale • $195         DVD Rent • $45

View Order Cart

Order for Personal Home Use

HOME   |   FILMS   |   ABOUT   |   PRESS |   ORDER   |   NEWS   |   CONTACT 
© Copyright . Jay Rosenblatt. All Rights Reserved

Site by Ladd Media