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The dance-film festival boom. (Movies).

When a celebrated filmmaker like Pedro Almodovar bookmarks his latest movie Talk to Her with opening and closing scenes of Pina Bausch's company in performance, we know that dance will for a moment gain visibility on silver screens around the country. But for long-term attention it is best to turn to film festivals devoted entirely to dance, which are sprouting like mushrooms after the rain. Dance Films Association produced the first festival of its type and the 1971 New York festival marked the beginning of a new era.

From then until 1994, the festival averaged about fifty entries a year. For its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1996, Joanna Ney, curator of dance film events at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, invited the association's Dance on Camera Festival to the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center. Since then the number of entries has increased--there were 181 for the January 2003 festival. Deirdre Towers, the executive director of DFA, says that Dance on Camera's move to Lincoln Center has brought the festival extraordinary attention. At the same time, with the evolution of the Internet, dance filmmakers around the world can easily find out about dance festivals.

As DFA grows, Towers sees the organization increasingly serving dance filmmakers by offering them more exposure. One change Towers has witnessed over the years is that "now it is dancers rather than the filmmakers who initiate collaborations."

In 2002, Dance on Camera collaborated with about sixteen "Touring Partners," presenting films from their 2002 festival at places as diverse as Mexico City, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Bytom, Poland. In the U.S., festivals have been held at the University of Utah, University of Michigan, and Virginia Commonwealth University among others. Film centers, such as the Jacob Burns Center in Pleasantville, New York, the Oak Street Cinema in Minneapolis, and the Getty Center in Los Angeles, all have shown outstanding works from the 2002 festival. Media houses often ask Towers to suggest films accessible to a general audience. Colleges ask for more experimental work.

Douglas Rosenberg is a filmmaker who has worked with dancers since the 1980s and has shown his films all over the world. In addition, Rosenberg is responsible for "Speaking of Dance," documentary interviews with artists at the American Dance Festival at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. In 1996, he began curating a Dancing for the Camera Festival that takes place at ADF over several days during the summer. Like Towers, Rosenberg advertises an open call, selects a jury that draws on experts from the film and dance communities, and plans programs from their choices.

Footage Dance Film Festival is another relative newcomer. Cynthia Pepper, the director, is a San Francisco Bay Area dancer, choreographer, and teacher who made a film about three dancing prodigies in 1997 and wanted to share it with friends and family. "The director of the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco suggested I start a film festival of dance films," said Pepper, who gets about thirty films a year before her September 1 deadline. "If the jury likes the films, then we screen them.... We like to bring back old favorites each year as well," she added.
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Author:Thom, Rose Anne
Publication:Dance Magazine
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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