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Victor Amaya in Lift by David Petersen
Victor Amaya, formerly of New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT program, leaps in the air, as seen in LIFT, directed by David Petersen. Photo credit: Fyodor Shiryaev. Courtesy of Beaufort 9 Films

The 13th annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival (SFDFF) showcases international and locally produced dance films from October 28 to November 7, 2022, in various San Francisco theaters and streamed online.


A fundraiser and specially curated program of some of the more provocative, creative and joyous dance film shorts from this year’s Festival. An opening night reception celebrating many of the creative artists featured in the films will follow immediately after the screening, to be held at the exclusive Lucasfilm Premier Theater. San Francisco Ballet will be co-presenting SALUTE TO SHORTS which includes the darkly humorous film, AN EVENING WITH TAGLIONI. The film was made in partnership with the English National Ballet and its Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo, who has recently joined San Francisco Ballet as its new Artistic Director.

LIFT (USA 2022 87 min) (West Coast Premiere)
Director: David Petersen
LIFT tells the astounding story of Steven Melendez, who went from living in homeless shelters in NYC, to achieving worldwide recognition as a ballet dancer. The film follows Steven’s return to the Bronx to guide the next generation of homeless youth into new possibilities through New York Theater Ballet’s LIFT program. This triumphant story will make you stand up and cheer. The inspirational Steven Melendez will be attending the premiere and participate in a Q&A with moderator Kristine Elliot.

BELLA (USA, 2022 98 min) (West Coast Premiere)
Director: Bridget A Murnane
Discover the life, work, and impact of California-based choreographer/arts activist Bella Lewitzky in the West Coast Premiere of the feature documentary BELLA. Described as “…one of the greatest American dancers of our age,” (Walter Terry) Bella Lewitzky was a talented, strong, out- spoken artist, who dedicated her creative life to protect the rights of every American citizen. Filmmaker, Bridget Murnane will attend the premiere screening and participate in a Q&A moderated by ODC co-founder and Artistic Director, Brenda Way.

Director: Connie Hochman
By opening the door to Balanchine’s private laboratory, new facets of the groundbreaking choreographer are revealed: taskmaster, mad scientist, and spiritual teacher. IN BALANCHINE’S CLASSROOM takes us back to the glory years of George Balanchine through the remembrances of his former dancers and their quest to fulfill the vision of a genius.

SIN LA HABANA (Canada, 2020 90 min)
Director: Kaveh Nabatian
In this narrative feature film, Leonardo, a classical dancer, and Sara, a lawyer, become entangled in an international love triangle as their ambitions to leave Cuba are thwarted by its closed borders. Featuring Yonah Acosta, the nephew of famed Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, in his first film acting role.

Local short films can be seen as part of the Festival’s annual “Raising Voices” program,
presented in partnership with the Roxie Theater. The program creates a platform for the work of under-represented artists and amplifies their powerful messages of activism and community. Followed by an artist talk with Sarah Crowell, Keith Hennessy and Deborah Slater and moderated by Laura Ellis, “Raising Voices” co-curator and founder of the Black Choreographer’s Festival.

Three experimental films transform everyday movements and situations, extending the familiar into the realms of the beautifully poetic and comically absurd

In plum tree / gorilla / ladder a lone figure turns the routine of an ordinary day into a transformative act of searching. The film Structure: Making Bolero by Korea National Contemporary Dance Company expands the sounds of everyday office life into the pop rhythms of “Bolero” to hilarious effect. The Collective Attention is a four-part collection of artworks by John Sanborn in collaboration with Collective Attention. Each piece presents a fusion of thoughtfully designed movements and states of being inspired by the intimate immediacy of creation.

Program includes live performance by Collective Attention (Dancers Carolina Czechowska and Jamielyn Duggan) accompanied by Edward Nelson.


Local films, comprising 35% of the Festival’s overall programming, will be celebrated in the annual Bay Area Shorts program. Featuring twenty-one short dance films by Bay Area and Northern California artists, the closing night program will also feature a live performance by the polyrhythmic, multidisciplinary San Francisco-based dance and music ensemble La Mezcla.

STREAMED PROGRAMS: (Oct. 28 – Nov. 7) – Eight Programs, 52 International Films

The online offerings include short documentaries and narratives profiling a range of artists working in unprecedented settings from the Maasai communities of Kenya to the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, and those seeking solace in dance as they search for identity and healing. The Short and Suite screendance program offers a great starting point for those new to dance film, and aficionados can enjoy critical new contemporary screendance works by leading-edge companies such as Hofesh Shechter Company and Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch.

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