French and English with English subtitles
France and USA
LA DANSE, THE PARIS OPERA BALLET
By Frederick Wiseman
Director Frederick Wiseman is renowned for documentaries that portray the human experience in a broad spectrum of social institutions. Here, he offers a rare glimpse at the inner workings of the Paris Opera Ballet, one of France’s principal cultural institutions and the world’s premier ballet companies. La Danse follows the rehearsals and performances of seven ballets: Paquita by Pierre Lacotte, The Nutcracker by Rudolf Nureyev, Genus by Wayne McGregor, Medea by Angelin Preljocaj, The House of Bernarda Alba by Mats Ek, Romeo and Juliet by Sasha Waltz, and Orpheus and Eurydyce by Pina Bausch. But it also ventures beyond the stage and studios into the opera house’s cafeterias, sewing rooms and offices, shining the spotlight on unseen players without whom the show cannot go on.
Wiseman accomplishes this in his signature observational style: armed with only a handheld camera, he allows events to unfold in the present, adding neither music nor commentary. We meet everyone from the maintenance crew to the artistic director, whose work ranges from discussing the repertoire of the company, to negotiating retirement reforms for the dancers with the Ministry of Employment, and hosting a gala tour for patrons costing $25,000 a package. The filmmaker’s creative agency however, is manifested in his special emphasis on the dancers, waiting their turns, enduring criticism, and executing the same steps repeatedly, as they seek to realise the choreographer’s vision and reach the pinnacle of their art.
La Danse has been shown at the 66th Venice International Film Festival (Italy, 2009), the 34th Toronto International Film Festival (Canada, 2009), the 53rd BFI London Film Festival (UK, 2009), the 22nd IDFA (Netherlands, 2009), and the 47th Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (Taiwan, 2010). It was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2010 Oscars.
Frederick Wiseman (b. 1930) is a film and stage director who has made more than 40 films. His first film, Titicut Follies (1967), saw him venturing inside a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane. Since then, his subjects have included a ballet company in New York (Ballet, 1995), the oldest theatre in the world still in operation (La Comédie-Française ou l’amour joué, 1996) and the National Gallery, London (National Gallery, 2014). He was awarded the IDFA Living Legend Award (Netherlands) in 2009, the Golden Lion for Career Achievement at the 71st Venice International Film Festival (Italy) in 2014, and the Academy Honorary Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (USA) in 2017.
French and English with English subtitles
Approximately 159 minutes
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