Inaugural LA Dance Film Fest is a Hit

By on January 27, 2017

 

When we think about story telling in film, we typically focus on actors and dialog, and we often only subliminally absorb visual clues as they connect to those narrative staples. When we consider dance in movies, we immediately think about the Hollywood musical, and recall our favorite performances by talented artists both past and present. Dance in this context is designed to entertain and showcase the performer’s ability, and only in rare cases, communicate an emotion in itself.

Dance, as a pure film genre, doesn’t get a lot of attention, and that’s why producers Alexa Roman and Betsy Uhler Colombo decided to host the LA Dance Film Fest. They, along with their team of judges, board members, friends, family, organizers and sponsors (Discount Dance Supply), reviewed and assembled short films from around the world and dropped them off on Hollywood’s door. Fourteen short films from six countries found their way into the Los Feliz Theater in Los Angeles on January 26th 2017, and the sold out theater enjoyed every minute of it.

The running times ranged from two minutes to fourteen, and told stories about loss, love, youth, and rebellion. The Dance genre focuses on movement and uses the performer’s physicality to play with the available space on the screen. How they shape it and move through it is often part of the story, and in the case of one of the films, Gimp Gait, it can be provocative and moving. The shot of an able-bodied and physically handicapped dancer stepping in unison during the closing seconds of the film absolutely floored me.

The film Invisible Point, by director Tanin Torabi from Iran, is especially notable when you know that dancing is illegal in that country. The final shot of a dancer dressed in a burqa and pointe shoes ‘en pointe’ on a public street, is not only fantastic, but also a powerful act of bravery.

A still from the film Invisible Point

Two short documentaries made up the evening’s entertainment too. Diamond Linda, from director Jennie Liu, explored dance as a route to self-discovery. Live the Game explored the origins and positive influence of the martial art, Capoeira. You can see the extended version of Live The Game below.

While films that seriously explore complex emotional topics are vital, it is also important to remember that dance is supposed to be fun. The film Farther Up the Road delivered a blast of high school prom choreographed action, and an entry from Finland, Cold Storage (my personal favorite), delivered a hilarious drunken performance after a man finds his soulmate buried in the snow.

The inaugural LA Dance Film Fest was well organized and fascinating. A must-see event for dancers and independent filmmakers alike. I have it on good authority that the festival will return next year, so please, bookmark the website, http://ladancefilmfest.org/ and follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ladancefilmfest) to make sure you don’t miss it!

Films Shown at the Festival:

Vagalume – Directed by Alois Di Leo (Brazil) 2016

Swimminghole – directed by Sarah Friedland (USA) 2016

In the Pines – directed by Elliott Geolat (USA) 2015

Gimp Gait – directed by Pioneer Winter (USA) 2016

Invisible Point – directed by Tanin Torabi (Iran) 2016

And So Do I – directed by Jana Younes (Lebanon) 2016

For All My Pacing, I do Not Move – directed by Nicola Collie (USA) 2016

Capoeira – Live the Game – directed by Eric Joddy Matthews (USA) 2016

Where are You Now – directed by Steven Diaz, Ashton Frederick and Frank Soares (Japan) 2015

Diamond Linda – directed by Jennie Liu (USA) 2016

Songs of the Underworld – directed Nicola Hepp (Netherlands) 2016

Farther up the Road – directed by Mark Orsborn and Jen Ray (USA) 2016

Cold Storage – directed by Thomas Freundlich (Finland) 2016

Confrontation – directed by Shannon Janet Smith (USA) 2016

A still from the film Confrontation

Following the screenings, several awards were handed out:

Gimp Gait won the Jury Award.

Confrontation won the Audience Award.

3 Standard Vision Showcase Awards went to Confrontation, Cold Storage, & Where Are You Now.

(Standard Vision is a company that creates large-scale media displays and will be taking parts of their three selected films to play on a 4-story LED screen in downtown Los Angeles. Here is their website for more information: http://www.standardvision.com/)

 

LA Dance Film Festival Website: http://ladancefilmfest.org/

LA Dance Film Festival Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ladancefilmfest

LA Dance Film Festival Twitter: https://twitter.com/LADanceFilmFest

About Stewart Hoffman

Stewart Hoffman contributes to the popular film review site, TalkieGazette.com, and is the author of the book, The Bug Boys.

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