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About Rapunzel's Etymology of Zero

Rapunzel's Etymology of Zero


About Our Film




Rapunzel's Etymology of Zero is a comedic retelling of the Rapunzel fairytale that features Rapunzel, as a brainy, math-loving princess, with a "super power" to control the growth of her hair.  To keep from marrying the Prince who loves her, she makes up a story about an evil step mother, locks herself in a tower, and proceeds to make great discoveries in the field of mathematics, while outside her window the Prince climbs.


She's the type of princess you don't see very often on film. The brilliant geek, you can't help but fall in love with.  The girl in the tower next door, with a penchant for numbers and a razor sharp wit.  


It turns out: Math + Feminism + Fairytale = Hilarious.  Who knew?







Rapunzel's Etymology of Zero Producers, Liz Anderson, Seth Podowitz and Katie May

Liz Anderson, Seth Podowitz & Kate May

Our Story


This project started out as a short staged play written for San Francisco PlayGround, and inspired by PlayGround’s partnership with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California.


When writer/producer, Katie May, had the chance to attend lectures on number theory (often referred the “queen of mathematics”) at the MSRI, she became fascinated with etymology of the number zero, and Rapunzel was born.


The short play was featured in the Best of Playground Festival in San Francisco, May of 2011, and subsequently produced by the 20% Theater in Chicago, and in the Short+Sweet festival all the way over in Sydney, Australia. 


When PlayGround partnered with Dances of Light productions to fund and produce the inaugural Best of PlayGround Film Festival, May joined with fellow PlayGround company member Liz Anderson, and started the hunt for a director.


Enter Seth Podowitz, Anderson’s voice-over agent, and film composer extraordinaire. Podowitz fell in love with Rapunzel’s quirks, and quickly assembled a team of terrifically talented animators to bring this story to life on screen.


The movie’s original animatic screened in the Best of PlayGround Film Festival in May, 2012, and the team got to work raising money to complete animation.


After a successful KickStarter Campaign, and a Finishing Fund grant from Women in Film Los Angeles, work on the film began in earnest.  [# of frames] later, the story of Rapunzel’s discovery is complete. Perhaps she’ll finally get the credit she deserves.


We hope you enjoy the film as much we do. 

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