The 6th Annual Los Angeles Dance Film Festival took place live on November 5, 2022 at MiMoDa Studio and will be streaming online through November 12, 2022. The Festival Founder and Executive Director is Nicole Manoochehri and the Festival Director and Film Curator is Olivia Mia Orozco. There are eight countries represented on the festival’s program including the United States, Finland, France, Singapore, Israel, Denmark, Canada, and United Kingdom. There are 15 short dance films, the longest running approximately 10 minutes, and a great majority of them are quite good. If you have the opportunity, I recommend that you take an hour or so out of your day and experience dance made for the camera. You may purchase your online ticket HERE.
The quantity of dance for films has grown in the past few years and perhaps it is a side product of the Covid pandemic during which more dance artists were literally forced into learning more about the process in order to continue creating. What was very visible was the fact that more films appeared to make use of the camera and the editing process as part of the choreography. In the past many dance films have come across as simply placing a camera in front of a dance that was meant for the proscenium stage.
One of my favorites of all the films was When The Night Falls (Finland) choreographed by Dance Company Gruppen Fyra and directed by Kimmo Leed. Not only was this film gorgeous cinematically but all the elements of brilliant choreography, editing and excellent performances came together to create a gem of an artistic work. The use of human gestures and of creating a dialogue via facial movement was masterful.
A woman escaping a failing world is seen running through a forest. She comes across three other people and it is not clear to any of them if they are enemies or fleeing the same fate. The gentle, slow movement begins with a gentle and somewhat minimal arm and facial duet of finding out who the other person is. There are smiles, caution, fear and suspicion, all visible with what I can only describe as a cautious dialogue. With no time to waste, trust or distrust is forced into the open in order for survival. Another person arrives and the interrogation is repeated in part before we see the group walking away from their camp at night toward a hopefully better future. I have never seen such a powerful statement in such a short film.
The performers in When The Night Falls are Virpi Juntti, Jenni Nikolajeff, Pia Liski, Tommi Haapaniemi, and Jukka Tarvainen. The writers for this beautiful film were Kimmo Leed and Juha Harju. The Editor was Otto Heikola and the extraordinary score was by Mari Sainio.
Directed by Mathieu Mondoulet and Thibaut Eiferman and choreographed by Thibaut Eiferman, La fuga dei cervlli (France) includes what one would call more traditional dancing. At the beginning of the film, the costumes are simple flesh tone leotards but the dancers, Chiara Corbetta and Thibaut Eiferman are wearing square cardboard head pieces with slits cut out for them to see.
The movement is athletic in a modern dance or contemporary style, and the film moves back and forth between the dancers in normal street clothes and back again to the surreal. It is for the viewer to decide what they see. The excellent editing was by Florian Bonget.
Birdsong (Singapore) was directed, choreographed, and performed by Claudine Liang and it is beautiful visually. The color contrasts are startling and although, at a minimum, the choreography and the performance is strong. Liang uses symbolism to direct our thoughts toward the joy of freedom and how for some, it is not an option. I agree with the last sentence in the description of the film that Birdsong is “an ode to all who wandered and felt lost; but never gave up on their own humanity.”
The film Palace (Israel) is filled with gorgeous dancing. Conceptualized, choreographed, and performed by Megan Rachel Doheny & Ilya Nikurov of Outrun The Bear, the moment is somewhat reminiscent of Israel’s renown choreographer Ohad Naharin (Mr. Gaga) and the late great German choreographer Pina Bausch. It is a dance of love and a complicated relationship. It is a story often told but rarely performed this well.
Palace was directed by Omer Ben-David with original music and editing by Dylan Tedaldi and video editing by Gosha Demin.
Strange but compelling was the film titled SHE (Denmark) written, choreographed, and performed by Dorotea Saykaly, and directed by Emil Dam Seidel. It appeared to be a futuristic therapy session or interrogation by a voice from within an orb suspended from the ceiling. Most of the film is dialogue between the automated voice and a woman dressed in everyday clothes. The movement is limited but filled with internal tension and turmoil. The Editor was Tiago Feliciano and the composer of the eerie score was Louis Dufort.
Directed and Choreographed by Karla Puno Garcia, Bustin’ Loose (United States) was not a great film but the dancing was fantastic. It is more in line with Michael Jackson style song videos with a storyline. Here a young woman, performed by the lovely Jhailyn Farcon, comes upon a rose in the street and its fragrance induces a dream with a subculture of people very much unlike herself but a group that she wishes to be a part of. The film’s Cinematography and Editing was by Pierre Marais. The other cast of very talented dancers included David Guzman, Jacob Guzman, Zuri Noelle Ford, Karli Dinardo, Zachary Downer, Carlos Gonzales, Carlos Falu, Diana Vaden, Morgan Marcell, and Roddy Kennedy. The music was “Bustin Loose” by Rebirth Brass Band.
The other films that deserve mentions for their beautiful performances, filming and editing were the stunning Bonheur/Happy Place (Canada), Directed and written by Maxime Beauchamp with choreography and performances by Chanel Lacasse and Greer Whillans. The inventive and humorous Ahead, Behind (United States), directed by Ben V. Kadie with choreography and performances by Jordan Johnson and Aidan Carberry. The all-woman rumble in a deserted warehouse STAVROPOL (United Kingdom) directed by Andrew Margetson with choreography by Irina Kononova. And the very short but magnificently performed 木ノ内 周 (Shu) (United States) directed by Mike Schwartz with choreography and performance by Shu Kinouchi.
The Los Angeles Dance Film Festival continues online through Saturday, November 12, 2022 at 11:59 PM. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by clicking HERE.
For more information about the Los Angeles Dance Film Festival, please visit their website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: 6th Annual Los Angeles Dance Film Festival – When the Night Falls (Finland) – Photo courtesy of the festival.