Charlotte “Lotte” Reiniger was a German silhouette artist and film maker born in Berlin-Charlottenburg, June 2, 1899.
Reiniger, when mentioned at all, is most often brushed off in a single sentence noting that she apparently made a feature-length silhouette film in 1926, The Adventures of Prince Achmed; but since that was in Germany, and silhouettes aren’t cartoons, Disney still invented the feature-length animated film with Snow White. Anyone who has seen Prince Achmed wouldn’t be convinced by this reasoning, but, alas, only a tiny fraction of the people who see Snow White ever get to see any Reiniger film at all. Few of her nearly 70 films are readily available—and almost none of them in excellent prints; when Reiniger fled Germany to England in the 1930s, she was not able to bring her original negatives with her, so most modern prints are copies of copies, which have lost much of the fine detail, especially in backgrounds.
Among the great figures in animated film, Lotte Reiniger stands alone. No one else has taken a specific animation technique and made it so utterly her own. To date she has no rivals, and for all practical purposes the history of silhouette animation begins and ends with Reiniger. Taking the ancient art of shadow-plays, as perfected above all in China and Indonesia, she adapted it superbly for the cinema.
I would say Reiniger’s influence is still felt by today’s contemporary artists, most-notably, a personal favorite, Kara Walker ( http://learn.walkerart.org/karawalker )