Call Me Dancer directed by Leslie Shampaine and Pip Gilmour
Call Me Dancer

International and local dance films will be showcased at the 14th annual San Francisco Dance Film Festival (SFDFF) from September 22 to October 15, 2023 in San Francisco theaters and streamed online.

The festival will launch on September 22 at the exclusive Lucasfilm Premier Theater, featuring a specially curated program of some of the more captivating, inventive, and evocative dance film shorts from this year’s Festival. Take a tour of diverse dance styles as smoldering jazz, flamboyant drag, athletic street dance, and world-class ballet come into conversation across the globe. From the intimacy of dance studios to the bustling streets of Lagos, Mexico City, and San Francisco’s own soaring hilltops, dancers find poetic expression in the universal language of dance


FLOWER (USA 2022) 28 min. (San Francisco Premiere)
Director: Lauren Finerman
A special screening on October 1 at the Brava Theater features FLOWER, a short episodic film series starring world-renowned ballerina and trailblazer Misty Copeland that tells a powerful story through dance and movement. This film, produced by Copeland and Leyla Fayyaz of Life in Motion Productions, shines a light on intergenerational equity, caretaking and the housing crisis in the Bay Area. Set in Oakland, California, the film was created with artists from the Bay Area community including local dancers. The film was directed by Lauren Finerman with music by GRAMMY-winning Raphael Saadiq and choreography by Alonzo King and Rich + Tone Talauega.
The program will feature a live in-person Q&A with Misty Copeland, Alonzo King and Lauren Finerman, and a live performance by special guest performers.

CALL ME DANCER (USA 2023) 1 hr. 24 min. (Northern California Premiere)
Directors: Leslie Shampaine, Pip Gilmour
A magical journey from the streets of Mumbai to the stages of New York, CALL ME DANCER is the story of rebellion, culture, and an unlikely friendship. Manish is an athletic street dancer from Mumbai who dreams of becoming a professional dancer against the wishes of his struggling parents. He meets a curmudgeonly Israeli ballet master, Yehuda Ma’or, who inspires him to follow his dreams. His perseverance through highs and lows reveals the power of dance to transform lives. CALL ME DANCER is a “Billy Elliott” style story that will make you want to jump up from your seat and, Yes, dance! Program concludes with a live Zoom talkback with director Leslie Shampaine and Manish Chauhan moderated by KT Nelson.

DANCING IN A-YARD (USA 2023) 1 hr. 12 min. (U.S. Premiere)
Director: Manuela Dalle
DANCING IN A-YARD is an intimate look into the lives of ten men in a rehabilitative dance program in Los Angeles County’s California State Prison at Lancaster. By telling their stories, these men and their instructor challenge toxic masculinity, confront stigmas faced by incarcerated people, and break the taboo against dancing behind bars. Their cultivation of a new prison culture inspires hope for progressive reforms and the potential for dance to positively impact the lives of incarcerated people, their families, and communities.

A diverse array of shorts programs will be screened in partnership with ODC Theater. 10 UNDER 10 is a selection of 10 screendance works under 10 minutes, drawn from artists working in seven countries and a rich variety of contemporary and traditional dance styles. DOC SHORTS explores the creative process with dancers from Nigeria, Cuba, Paris, and the Crow Creek Native American Reservation as they navigate heartfelt triumphs and challenges. The program is anchored by THEN COMES THE BODY, about the challenges and opportunities experienced by students at the Leap of Dance Academy, Nigeria’s first and only ballet school.

Local films, comprising 25% of the Festival’s overall programming, will be celebrated in two Bay Area Shorts programs screening at ODC Theater. Featuring sixteen short dance films by Bay Area and Northern California artists, the programs showcase the rich diversity of expression in the local community. From street corners to seaside cliffs and San Francisco’s highest hills, these artists push boundaries of form, style, and narrative in conversation with their incomparable Bay Area backdrop. Experience deeply personal emotional journeys, moving celebrations of culture and community, and abstractly evocative beauty in this collection of locally-rooted films.

(United States, 2022) 34 minutes
Director: Bryan Gibel, Joanna Haigood
LOVE, A STATE OF GRACE is an immersive meditation on vulnerability, courage, and loving attunement to our common humanity, told through the mesmerizing art of aerial dance. For four days in 2022, Zaccho Dance Theatre transformed San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. Amid the cathedral’s towering ceilings, stained glass windows, and cavernous chambers, performers ascend a 100-ft ladder and soar on a 70-foot swinging pendulum, defying gravity with equanimous grace.

STREAMED PROGRAMS: (October 8-15) – 5 Programs, 15 International Films
Online offerings available for streaming include documentaries, live performance captures, and short film works from a range of artists who harness dance as cultural expression and artistic activism, including the Festival’s RAISING VOICES shorts program. In CAPTURED LIVE, experience the ineffable vitality of live performance in the sweeping drama of the remote Australian coast, a transatlantic conversation between Portugal and Cuba, and San Francisco’s own Grace Cathedral.

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