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With a program lineup that travels the globe from Ireland to Argentina to Kazakhstan, the 48th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival, running July 17-20, 2020, will be presented digitally for the first time,

This year’s festival includes a variety of features and shorts, opening with the U.S. premiere of an intimate look at celebrated choreographer Maguy Marin. Maguy Marin: Time to Act includes stunning footage of live performances and the screening will be followed by a live Q&A with Marin and director David Mambouch.

Highlights from the Shorts program include hand-painted animation in Peter Sparling’s Cornered (Detainee’s Lament) and a timely, passionate exploration of race and political activism in Susan Misner’s Bend.

The festival’s DFA Global program, an initiative which provides a platform of support and dialogue with global screen dance filmmakers, includes Peter Vulchev’s confessional conversations with prima ballerina Vessa Tonova in A Monologue in the Intermission; Cara Holmes’ short film Welcome To A Bright White Limbo from Ireland about Belfast based dancer and choreographer Oona Doherty, and the creative process of her award winning ‘Hope Hunt;’ and Dana Mussa and Alexander Murphy’s KIELI BI, recounting through dance the journey of a woman’s return to Kazakhstan after 8 years dancing in Paris.

There is also an opportunity for creators to submit their original two-minute films to be considered for this year’s #mydancefilm program. The special release of selected films will take place on the final day of the festival. Participants are invited to portray how “Isolation” manifests itself in their lives during these days of social distancing. Using the hashtags #mydancefilm with #docf17thru20july – and tagging @dancefilms – films may be posted for consideration through June 17 on the filmmaker’s own Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts. Jacob Jonas will be the guest filmmaker in a prerecorded conversation with the selected artists.

2020 Dance on Camera Festival – Films & Descriptions

All screenings take place online at

Opening Night

Program 1

Maguy Marin: Time to Act
David Mambouch, France, 2018, 95m
French with English Subtitles
U.S. Premiere

Dynamic choreographer Maguy Marin burst onto the 1970s French new wave dance scene. A contemporary of Pina Bausch, Marin’s work stood out for its theatrical aesthetic, political commentary, and audacious integration of traditional dance with unexpected narrative, musical and physical elements. In 1981, Marin’s work “May B,” inspired by the work of modernist playwright Samuel Beckett, upset the dance world; it rejected traditional ideals of beauty and embraced a fiercely political perspective. Since then, Marin’s work has grown in popularity; she has won numerous awards and her pieces are regularly presented at all major dance festivals, from the Rio Favellas (Lilia Rodrigues’s company) to the Joyce Theater (NY).

The documentary Maguy Marin: Time to Act offers remarkable footage of live performances, as well as first person interviews with a choreographer whose work is daring, moving and continues to defy convention.
Friday, July 17, 6:30pm

Program 2

Shift by Claire Marshall
Claire Marshall, Kevin Holloway, Australia, 2019, 30m
U.S. Premiere
Taking an 8-minute duet situated in various locations, and repeated four times, choreographer Claire Marshall investigates how the sense of ‘story’ shifts with the consideration of location, cinematic elements, and editing. The duet explores a discordant couple stuck in a rut, looping manipulative behavior as four stories eventually shift to become one story.

Preceded by
How Can I Forget
Natalia Andreadis, UK, 2019, 9m
World Premiere

Joe and Connie’s awkward blind date takes a fascinating turn when they discover that they share the same magical ability. You will be charmed!
Saturday, July 18, 12:00pm (Prerecorded Conversation with Claire Marshall, Kevin Holloway, Richard Causer, and Lucy Hood, moderated by Alicia Graf Mack)

Program 3

Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker
Deirdre Allen Timmons, USA, 2019, 38m
World Premiere

The classic 1892 Nutcracker Ballet grows up in this all-out spectacular rebirth, merging burlesque, ballet, jazz, comedy and a whole lot of glamour. Cue “Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker.” Now in its 14th year, this spectacular holiday show has won the hearts of audiences young and old and created a romping holiday tradition in Seattle. Join us as we draw back the velvet curtain and follow the show’s creators and producers Lily Verlaine and Jasper McCann, in addition to the show’s artisans, performers and musicians, and take an irresistible journey into how this magical show is brought to the stage, snow and all.

Preceded by
Pablo Destito and Agustina Videla, Argentina, 8m
North American Premiere

Being captures the restorative power that draws the dancer to the joy of movement. Away from a life of urban sidewalks and cellphones, where beauty is unnoticed, time stops so it may start again. The dance restores the self, and the senses reconnect with the world, like a flower bouncing back from being stepped on.
Saturday, July 18, 2:00pm

Program 4

DANCING DARKNESS Peggy Baker conjures ‘who we are in the dark’
V. Tony Hauser and Ellen Tolmie, Canada, 2020, 40m
World Premiere

Dancing Darkness explores the distinctively personal and profoundly collaborative creative process through the conjuring of Peggy Baker’s latest and most ambitious work, “who we are in the dark.” Renowned American choreographer Mark Morris calls Baker a “living treasure of Canada”. She burst into modern dance in 1971, working with dance greats Morris, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Lar Lubovitch, James Kudelka and others in New York and Canada, dancing into her late 50s before turning full-time to choreography.

Baker’s accomplices for ‘who we are in the dark’ match this ambition, including celebrated Canadian contemporary dancers as well as violinist/singer Sarah Neufeld and drummer Jeremy Gara (of the famed indie-rock band Arcade Fire) who composed and perform the dance’s fast-paced, haunting score.

In three acts, Dancing Darkness examines Baker’s passionate, creative odyssey (including a bio brief on her career); human responses to darkness, in the dance and as the artists otherwise express; and the mystery and necessity of art itself. The dance’s technical/dress residency provides the film’s rich visual backbone and extensive interviews with principal collaborators form its narrative ‘voice.’
Saturday, July 18, 4:00pm (Prerecorded Conversation with V. Tony Hauser, Ellen Tolmie, and Peggy Baker, moderated by Wendy Perron)

Program 5

Josefina Rotman Lyons, USA, 2019, 66m
New York Premiere

92-year old Stuart Hodes leads a group of seniors in a dance, inciting a sense of community and hope. This film explores how we can age with joy and reveals the capacity of the older person to experience unrestrained joy and unwavering determination through dance and art.

Through its charismatic characters and their dancing, the film encourages those who are contemplating their own mortality: Don’t stop dancing! Viewers looking at older others, see the vital message: Look who is still dancing!
Saturday, July 18, 7:00pm

Program 6

Kemp. My best dance is yet to come
Edoardo Gabbriellini, Italy, 2019, 64m
English with Italian subtitles
North American Premiere

Choreographer, actor, dancer, mime and burlesque performer, the English director Lindsay Kemp was and still is an icon of contemporary dance, an eccentric experimenter and source of inspiration for many. After his death at the age of 80, the documentary traces the last period of the artist who finds asylum in the Italian city of Livorno. This is a captivating profile of a colorful, flamboyant performance artist who worked on West End and Broadway and directed Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust among other intriguing projects.
Sunday, July 19, 12:00pm

Program 7

DFA Global
DFA Global is pleased to present three short films for this international program: KIELI BI filmed in Kazakhstan, Welcome to a Bright White Limbo filmed in Ireland, and A Monologue in the Intermission filmed in Bulgaria bring together the very different stories of three women and their contrasting experiences dancing.

Dana Mussa and Alexander Murphy, France, 2019, 30m
Kazakh with English Subtitles
North American Premiere

Kieli Bi (meaning “sacred dance” in Kazakh language) is an art film, a dance film and also a film on the theme of Woman – her body and spirit. The film recounts through dance the spiritual voyage of dancer and choreographer Dana Mussa who returns to visit her motherland Kazakhstan after an absence of 8 years work as a dancer in Paris. A voyage in time and space, extending back centuries to the time when Women were the Hunters, Riders, Amazons, Shaman, Priestesses, Queens and Goddesses. Shot in incredibly gorgeous locations, Mussa’s strong, authentic movements are both dramatic and poetic.

Followed by
Welcome to a Bright White Limbo
Cara Holmes, Ireland, 2019, 11m

Oona Doherty is a Belfast based dancer and choreographer. She is bold, complex, arresting, and ambitious. This innovative, poetic and visually arresting documentary is a portrait of Oona and the creative process of her powerful award winning show ‘Hope Hunt.’

Followed by
A Monologue in the Intermission
Peter Vulchev, Bulgaria, 2018, 25m
New York Premiere

A Monologue in the Intermission is an intimate portrait of the prima ballerina Vessa Tonova. The movie was filmed in just six hours, during the ballet “Swan Lake” in Sofia Opera and Ballet in 2014. During this short time, filled with adrenaline and stress, Vessa Tonova makes the most sincere confession about her life. Filmed entirely in her dressing room, Vessa talks about what she has created and sacrificed and her fears that the end of her career is close.
Sunday, July 19, 2:00pm (Prerecorded Conversation with Cara Holmes and Oona Doherty)

Program 8

Shorts Program
61m; listed in screening order

How to Sink a Paper Boat
David Bolger, Ireland, 2019, 14m
New York Premiere

A devastating past collides with the present as a young woman delves into the mysteries of the sea in this bold, physical short dance film.

Angela Rosales Challis, USA, 2019, 4m
New York Premiere
This animated screendance, based on a poem, is a unique abstraction of emotion into movement. Chang Liu, a Chinese queer dancer, is able to explore those responses with power and sensibility.

Meredith Slifkin, Emily Yue, USA, 2018, 22m
World Premiere

An insightful, unsentimental look into a blind woman’s world—her passion for innovation and her compelling, genuine love of movement.

Hanna Brotherus, Finland, 2020, 5m
North American Premiere

A group of men from different backgrounds between the ages of 12 and 85 feel the power, physicality and intimacy of touch. This dance film by Finnish choreographer Hanna Brotherus is enigmatic, compelling, and visually striking.

Cornered (Detainee’s Lament)
Peter Sparling, USA, 2020, 4m
World Premiere

Using hand-painted animation, Sparling creates a stark and dramatic version of a danced improvisation in the corner of an empty cell, evoking a detainee’s plight and a baring of both body and soul.

Susan Misner, USA, 2019, 12m
World Premiere

Bend is a timely love story that charts the distance between its lovers. A single charged gesture of political activism lays bare the fragile balance of a relationship, revealing how we all struggle with our past in the effort to forge a more honest future.
Sunday, July 19, 4:00pm (Prerecorded Conversation with Susan Misner, Troy Ogilvie, and Jeffery Duffy, moderated by Gabri Christa)

Program 9

Uprooted – The Journey of Jazz Dance
Khadifa Wong, USA, 2019, 95m
World Premiere
The story of Jazz Dance is a complex one and goes to the very heart of humanity. It is a story of triumph over adversity, oppression and privilege, as well as a celebration, because ultimately, what all people have in common is rhythm and a basic human need to get down.
Sunday, July 19, 7:00pm


Special Release – #mydancefilm Selections

Screening and Prerecorded Conversation
This special release features the winners from the online #mydancefilm opportunity. The original theme assigned was “Isolation” and submissions had to be 2 minutes or under. In addition to screening the #mydancefilm selected films, guest panelist Jacob Jonas’ film PARKED will be shown at the end of the screening.
Monday, July 20, 4:00pm (Prerecorded conversation)

Special “Dance Films Presents”

Part I: “From the Dance Films Association Archives”

A short 27 minute program of DFA’s archival picks will be made available including: Bittersweet by David Rousseve, Modern Daydreamers: Deere John by Mitchell Rose, and Wake Up Call by Pooh Kaye.

Part II: Dance Films Association Production Grant Honorees
The two short film awardees for DFA’s 2019 production grant competition screening in this special “Dance Films Presents” program include Monster News Feed by Cara Hagan and Clear Creek by Ellen Smith Ahern.
Monday, July 20, 6:30pm

Dance on Camera Festival 2020 | Trailer
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