Los Angeles dance festival draws filmmakers from Argentina to Turkey to Hollywood

Two modern dancers dress in black unitards seemingly attached at the hips, arms outstretched in ballet positions, one standing up on the right the other kneeling on their right leg and left leg extended to the side
Bridget Murnane’s Bella
Dancer in a treed area in a yellow-green tutu with bared arms, shoulders and legs below the knee
Dr. Tia-Monique Uzor’s The Noise My Leaves Make

The popular west coast dance film festival welcomes patrons of the arts under open skies on the lawn of the Barnsdall Gallery Theater in East Hollywood with a 90-min. free screening of international shorts starting Thursday.

This year’s festival draws international, national and local filmmakers, choreographers, casts and crew from 33 films to L.A. to participate in the festival. Films screening at the festival were shot in countries from Argentina to Turkey.

Festival Director Kelly Hargraves expects a full house on opening night. This year’s Dance Camera West film festival includes over 65 films selected by a diverse group of industry artists, awards presentations, workshops and networking events. “After the last few years, the theme of the 2023 festival is definitely community and getting back to our people,” says Hargraves, who is happy to welcome filmmakers and audiences back in such large numbers.

The opening night film Bella by Bridget Murnane celebrates L.A. dance icon and activist Bella Lewitsky. The L.A. premiere of the film is being showcased to a packed house, inside the Barnsdall Gallery Theater. The closing night includes Dance Camera West’s signature program VISIBILITY, created to support underrepresented artists, plus the premiere of Sheila and other films by award-winning Dutch Caribbean filmmaker and choreographer Gabri Christa. 

Christa, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Barnard College who teaches dance and yoga, is a special guest artist at the festival and will present a dance film lab. She directs the Movement Lab, a space for experimentation and exploration of movement, performance and technology at Barnard and is the founding director of Moving Body-Moving Image, a social issues screen dance film festival. Christa’s workshop focuses on composition. The class will explore the single shot camera for filming dance and learn how to use the body to design dynamic camera work for dance films. The session focuses on the use of small cameras and phones.

The festival connects with a new generation of emerging artists while paying homage to the history and ancestry of film and dance. Films this year celebrate the legacy of dancers like Bella Lewitzky and welcomes dance company alumni, along with new filmmakers and dancers that audiences may not yet be familiar with. 

Part of Dance Camera West’s programming for the festival includes a lunch and discussion for filmmakers at the Cara Hotel, and a tour of Hollyhock House, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, located on the grounds of the historic Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood at the crest of Olive Hill overlooking the city.

Dance Camera West continues outdoors for part of Friday and Saturday. If you can’t make it to L.A. you can still watch DCW Films on PBS ALL ARTS TV. Catch it on January 19 at 10:30 p.m. ET on the New York City-local channel or stream it nationwide on the ALL ARTS app and online. 

ALL ARTS Dance Camera Selects program titles include Juan of the Witches by Andrew Houchens, ALI! by Rain Kencana, Maids by Sofía Castro and If I Sound Happy, That’s Your Mistake by Derrick Belcham and Matilda Sakamoto.

Screening Schedule (This code: DCW23CREW saves you $10 off on any ticket purchase.)

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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