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Pontus Lidberg’s philosophical Written On Water
Pontus Lidberg’s philosophical Written On Water

The 49th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival presented by Dance Films Association and Film at Lincoln Center runs July 16-18, 2021. The festival makes a long-awaited return to in-person events at the Walter Reade Theater at Film at Lincoln Center along with virtual program.

“We are thrilled to return to in-person programming at Lincoln Center this year,” said Liz Wolff, co-curator of the Dance on Camera Festival. “The archival nature of this festival allowed us a unique opportunity to comprehensively reflect on our almost half-decade history. The combined experience of sharing the festival through live screenings and virtual programs to audiences in both New York City and around the world is novel to our history. We look forward to showcasing artists and perspectives from each decade since the festival’s inauguration in 1971 while exploring this blended presentation format.”

A precursor to its 50th Anniversary, this year’s Dance on Camera Festival celebrates the illustrious films from the festival’s history. The archival program will also spotlight BIPOC stories, dancers, and filmmakers that have been featured during the festival’s run. The festival opens with the New York premiere of Pontus Lidberg’s philosophical Written On Water, which was awarded Dance Films Association’s production grant in 2019.

“It’s an honor to have my film serve as the opening feature presentation to Dance on Camera’s dynamic celebration of their history concurrent with both the festival and city’s return to live events. I can’t wait to share this work in person with fellow New Yorkers,” said Written On Water director, Pontus Lidberg. “It makes it even more special having been awarded support from the Dance Films Association to make this very film; a truly full-circle moment.”

The three-day festival will continue with screenings of the Best of Fest 2020 audience award winners. “We are delighted to celebrate last year’s Best of Fest selections in a theater. We look forward to sharing Bend, Shift, and Uprooted: The Journey Of Jazz Dance in a setting where the electricity of the films can be shared with a crowd,” notes co-curator and executive producer Shawn Bible.

As part of the virtual program, Arthur Dong’s Forbidden City, U.S.A. will also feature an exclusive moderated conversation between Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface and director, Arthur Dong. Curatorial Advisor and Executive Producer Michael Trusnovec noted, “The opportunity to absorb a work like Forbidden City, U.S.A. or Elliot Caplan’s Beach Birds For Camera really illustrates the depth, diversity, and artistry that is found in the annals of this festival’s history.”

#mydancefilm will return to the 49th edition of the Dance on Camera Festival and showcases submissions from filmmakers all around the globe. It will be available virtually on the final day of programming, free to everyone who registers for an account on the FLC Virtual Cinema.

Additionally, as a prelude to the festival, Lincoln Center’s Restart Stages Program and NEON will be presenting a special preview of Jamila Wignot’s Ailey on Monday, July 12 at Damrosch Park. A panel conversation moderated by Dance on Camera Festival co-curator Liz Wolff will precede the screening.

49th Dance on Camera Film Festival Lineup

Opening Night

Program 1

Written On Water
Pontus Lidberg, France/Germany/USA, 2021, 81m
English/French with English Subtitles
New York Premiere
A choreographer must face an unresolved romantic encounter from her past as she creates a new dance work. Directed by acclaimed Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg, Written on Water features Aurélie Dupont, Alexander Jones, Stina Ekblad, screen legend Leslie Caron, and Lidberg himself.

Program 2

Shift
Claire Marshall, Australia, 2019, 30m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection
Taking an eight-minute duet situated in various locations and repeated four times, choreographer Claire Marshall investigates how one’s sense of “story” shifts with the consideration of setting, cinematic elements, and editing. The duet explores a discordant couple stuck in a rut, looping manipulative behavior as the four stories eventually merge into one. An unconventional production, Shift allowed its artists and locations to shape the story rather than hewing to a prefabricated narrative. Shift won the audience choice award for the 48th Dance on Camera Festival NYC in 2020 in the 20-40 minute category. In 2020 Shift won the cinematography award at the Silk Road Film Awards, Cannes, won the Close Up San Francisco Short Film Festival (experimental category) in 2021 and was a finalist for an Australian Dance Award in 2020. Shift has been screened as a featured work at Dancehouse Melbourne as a part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2020, and programmed as an ‘official selection’ in the Cascadia Dance Film Festival (Canada), Birmingham International Dance Festival, and Obskuur Ghent Film Festival, Belgium in 2021.

Bend
Susan Misner, USA, 2019, 11m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection
A young Caucasian woman brings her African-American boyfriend to watch her younger brother’s high-school football game. They’re in her hometown. The National Anthem begins. Her boyfriend takes a knee.
What follows is a study of bias and betrayal, of righteousness, loss, and mercy. Bend chronicles America’s dark history of fear and violence, and its perpetual inability to bridge turbulent divides.

Preceded by
Outside In
Margaret Williams, UK, 1994,14m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Show 1994 Selection
Outside In is a film for six dancers, drawn from the Candoco Dance Company, a group of physically disabled and non-disabled dancers. It was the first collaboration between choreographer Victoria Marks and director Margaret Williams. Outside In is a witty and affectionate mix of trails, tracks, blue skies and hidden surprises. The film leaves a lasting impression of continual movement: a seamless stream of images, human imprints, and revelations.

As winner of the 1994 Screen Choreography award at Dance Screen, Best of Show at Dance on Camera New York, the Prague d’Or, the Golden Antenna of Bulgaria, and the Film Board of Canada Creativity Award, Outside In is one of the BBC’s most honored arts films.

We’d like to dedicate this screening to the memory of David Toole, who died in 2020 at the age of 56. David was a world-renowned disabled dancer who defied preconceptions about dexterity and beauty. His combination of physical power and delicacy was bewitching.

Coup de Grâce
Clara van Gool, Netherlands, 2011, 26m
Coup de Grâce is a dance film about the demise of a friendship. Jordi Cortés Molina plays a proud aristocrat who has been hurt in the past. His childhood friend (Damián Muñoz) is his fanciful opposite. After a long separation, the two men meet again in a massive building. During an evening and a night they have an exhaustive duel without any weapons. Coup de Grâce is a cinematic adaptation of the presentation of Ölelés from Molina and Muñoz, based on the novel Embers by Sándor Márai (1942). It is a tale of revenge for wounds that never heal despite the passage of time.

Program 3

Uprooted: The Journey Of Jazz Dance
Khadifa Wong, USA, 2020, 94m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection
Uprooted is a feature-length tribute to the history, lineage, and future progressions of jazz dance. With a stellar cast of leading industry experts, award-winning choreographers, and legendary performers, Khadifa Wong fashions a groundbreaking documentary, reaching back to the roots of the form in Africa and following its evolution through every single decade and genre. Exploring and commenting on political and social influences, the film is an honest conversation about jazz dance, addressing topics such as appropriation, racism, socialism, and sexism.

Uprooted 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. With special appearances by Debbie Allen, George Faison, Chita Rivera, Camille A. Brown, and Thomas F. DeFrantz, Uprooted also showcases the works of the Nicholas Brothers, Pepsi Bethel, Jack Cole, Katherine Dunham, Bob Fosse, and Gene Kelly.

Virtual Programming

*Please note that these will be available at the start of the festival and concurrently with the in-person programming at Lincoln Center

Program 1 – Features

Forbidden City, U.S.A.
Arthur Dong, USA, 1989, 56m
Digitally remastered by UCLA Film & TV Archive from original film negatives, this classic film by Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Arthur Dong takes you inside the glamorous world of San Francisco’s Chinatown nightclubs during World War II. Meet the “Chinese Fred Astaire,” the “Chinese Sophie Tucker,” and the “Chinese Sally Rand”—just some of the performers who take you back to the Big Band era, when Chinese-American headliners flew below the radar. Named “Best Documentary of the Decade” by the Hawaii International Film Festival, Forbidden City, USA reveals the heartfelt stories of entertainers at the world-famous Forbidden City nightclub, telling the true-life tales that inspired both the musical Flower Drum Song and Lisa See’s novel China Dolls.

Includes a moderated conversation between Forbidden City, USA’s director, Arthur Dong, and Phil Chan, co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface.

Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter
Greg Vander Veer, USA, 2014, 80m
Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter reveals the little-known story of Martha Hill, a visionary who fought against great odds to make modern dance a legitimate art form in America. In a career spanning most of the 20th century, Hill became a behind-the-scenes champion of dance education and later the founding director of the Juilliard Dance Division, mentoring many future luminaries. Stylistically weaving together over 90 years of archival footage, the film is a celebration of dance and an examination of the passion required to keep it alive.

Rare Birds
T.M. Rives, USA, 2015, 59m
A documentary tracking the creative process as internationally acclaimed choreographer Alexander Ekman mounts his innovative production A Swan Lake at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo. The house’s colorful army of craftsmen and technical staff take on the challenges, solve unheard-of problems, and break new ground on the greatest contemporary dance success of its year.

Written on Water
Pontus Lidberg, France/Germany/USA, 2021, 81m
English/French with English Subtitles

Amelia
Édouard Lock, Canada, 2002, 60m
The multi-award-winning dance film Amelia explores the use of pointe technique via extended intertwining solos, complex partnering sequences, and extreme speed to generate powerful performances with unexpected moments of tender emotion and serenity. Director Édouard Lock uses intricate choreography for both camera and dancers, creating amazing and constantly shifting points of view. Trademark performances, brilliant and relentless, combined with the delicate sensual lighting of DP André Turpin and the minimalist environment of a giant wooden box with rounded corners that seems to have no exit, fashion a disturbingly exquisite and moving experience. The original score, written by David Lang for violin, cello, piano, and voice, blends evocative minimalism with lyrics from five of Lou Reed’s most famous works, written in the ‘60s for The Velvet Underground.

Uprooted: The Journey Of Jazz Dance
Khadifa Wong, USA, 2020, 94m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection

Program 2 – BIPOC

Great Performances: Dance In America: #342 Dance Theatre of Harlem
Merrill Brockway, USA, 1977, 60m

Originally produced for PBS, this documentary depicts members of the American classical troupe Dance Theatre of Harlem informally and in rehearsal, as well as performing five selections from their repertoire. Through accounts of troupe director Arthur Mitchell, co director Karel Shook, and various dancers, the film charts the growth of the company from its beginnings in a Harlem garage in 1969 to its present international stature.

Remembering Thelma
Kathe Sandler, USA, 1982, 13m
Guggenheim Award–winning filmmaker Kathe Sandler provides viewers with a lively profile of the late dance instructor and practitioner Thelma Hill. The film contains rare footage and photos of Hill performing with the original Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the New York Negro Ballet Company of the 1950s, as well as interviews with dancers, choreographers, and friends. Remembering Thelma was screened at the 1982 New York Film Festival, and won the Best Biography of a Dance Artist award at an early iteration of the Dance on Camera Festival

Includes a moderated conversation between Remembering Thelma’s director, Kathe Sandler, and Walter Rutledge, choreographer, writer, and artistic advisor of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center.

Limón: A Life Beyond Words
Malachi Roth, USA, 2001, 71m
Narrated by actress and drama teacher Uta Hagen and artistic director Isaiah Sheffer, Limón: A Life Beyond Words offers a compelling look at revolutionary modern dancer and choreographer José Limón (1908-1972), once described by the New York Times as the “greatest male dancer of his own or any other time.”

Bend
Susan Misner, USA, 2019, 11m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection

Program 3 – Shorts

Outside In
Margaret Williams, UK, 1994, 14m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Show 1994 Selection

Beach Birds For Camera
Elliot Caplan, USA, 1992, 28m
Beach Birds for Camera is an adaptation of a dance work originally made for the stage, adding three additional dancers. This film combines different shooting locations, black-and-white and color footage, and Dolby stereo sound to present dance through the visual medium of film. When it was first suggested to composer John Cage that he should create a work in collaboration with choreographer Merce Cunningham for the 1991 James Joyce/John Cage Festival in Zurich, Cage had the idea to write a large-scale piece to be called Ocean, the projected title for Joyce’s next novel—never to be written—following Finnegans Wake. No suitable space was available for such a project, so it was decided that instead, a new dance would be made for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s repertory. Cunningham had always intended to call his part of the work Beach Birds, and so the title remains.

Coup de Grâce
Clara van Gool, Netherlands, 2011, 26m

Gravity of Center
Thibaut Duverneix and Victor Quijada, Canada, 2012, 15m
The short film Gravity of Center is an adaptation of the eponymous stage work created by Victor Quijada. Five characters encounter each other in the wake of a natural and economic disaster. Wandering through unnamed landscapes, they depend on each other for their survival but also feel stifled by their reliance on the group. Five world-class dancers embody animal instinct and human dignity in this stunning film.

Gravity of Center won Best Experimental Short and the Kodak Award for Best Cinematography in a Canadian Short at the 2012 edition of the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival.

Co-produced by Natalie Galazka, Sach Baylin-Stern, RUBBERBAND, and ANTLER Films. With the support of BravoFACT, the Canada Council for the Arts, Société de la Place des Arts de Montréal, and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.

Shift
Claire Marshall, Australia, 2019, 30m
Dance on Camera Festival Best of Fest 2020 Selection

Program 4
#mydancefilm Selections
The free program will feature a selection of films from the #mydancefilm submissions. It will be available virtually on the final day of programming, free to everyone who registers for an account on the FLC Virtual Cinema.

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