News: Big Dance & Channel 4 Short film commissions announced

Friday 5 February 2016 by Carmel Smith

Still from Bertie and Ponciano Almeida's 'Vida Longa' Big Dance Shorts 2012.

Big Dance and Channel 4 have announced the short dance films that have been awarded a new commission to be produced for the Channel 4 Random Acts strand. Nominated by experts across the UK contemporary film and dance sectors and responding to the Big Dance 2016 festival’s theme ‘Dance Decades’, the selected filmmakers and choreographers will explore dance on film in a range of diverse and imaginative ways, with subjects from space to sofas, and dance forms from social to contemporary. “The panel was impressed and very excited by the quality and range of artistic collaborations submitted for the final Big Dance Shorts series” said Jacqueline Rose, Big Dance’s Director. It’s a wonderful opportunity to capture the essence of dance, which as well as movement is about imagination, wit, magic and much more. I’m looking forward to seeing the final films and how they respond to the Dance Decades theme and think they will have wide appeal for audiences across the UK.”

The commissions are:

FALLING/FLYING – poetic and whimsical, the film draws a parallel between the experience of older people living in isolation and those living and working in space. Visual artist Edwin Mingard, Vicki Amedume of aerial dance company Upswing and Entelechy Arts in collaboration with Satellite Films will explore technology, ageing and our physical environment.

WE SHALL TRIP THE LIGHT FANTASTIC – appropriates elements from nine decades of popular dance to form and collage them onto a single body in visceral and unexpected ways. A collaboration between artist and moving image maker Lucy Cash, choreographer and visual artist Florence Peake and award winning director of photography Ole Birkeland.

TO THE END OF THE FINGER TIPS is a visually rich and surreal tale that shadows two women as they slip through time on a quest for freedom and fulfilment. A collaboration between filmmaker Roswitha Chesher and choreographers/performers Sophie Arstall & Elizabeth Barker.

BIG SOFA is a bizarre tale surrounding an extended family that are awoken suddenly by the ear-splitting sound track of the film they are watching together. Another winning collaboration between director/choreographer Deborah Tiso, director of photography Fillipo Maria and sound designer Tim Barker.

THE SPA PEOPLE – to be filmed on location in Iceland, the film portrays elderly visitors in stark contrast to the backdrop of steaming thermal pools and vast frozen mountains performing a surreal dance. The first collaboration between filmmakers Oscar Oldershaw, Joe Campbell and renowned choreographer Wendy Houstoun.

The partnership between Channel 4 and the Big Dance programme aims to stimulate new and creative collaborations between dance and film professionals, creating the opportunity to produce new and imaginative works for film. Previously, ten dance films have been made by the collaboration between Channel 4 and Big Dance which have been screened throughout the world. This year’s Big Dance Shorts is part of the final year of Big Dance, which was originally launched by the Mayor of London in 2006 and has seen millions of people of all ages and abilities, professional and amateur, dancing across the UK and in countries around the world.

Pegah Farahmand, Commissioning Editor for Arts, Channel 4, said: “I was amazed at the quality of all the submissions for the Big Dance Shorts series, it was really tough to choose only five but we are delighted with the finalists and can’t wait to see the truly original and unique ideas to come to life. Big Dance has always excelled in pushing the boundaries of performance on film, so it is the perfect partner for Random Acts and it’s an honour to be part of its 10th and final festival this summer.”

The winning films will go into production this spring with the full support of an experienced industry expert. The completed films will be showcased on Channel 4’s Random Acts strand, before going on to screenings as part of Big Dance’s nationwide programme of events during Big Dance Week 2-10 July 2016.

Image: still from Bertie and Ponciano Almeida’s Vida Longa. Big Dance Shorts 2012

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