Vulnerability and inclusion meet mindfulness in this documentary about the healing power of movement and touch.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Sanford Lewis
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
I made the film because I was driven by the question of why the dance form contact improvisation feels so natural, even though it entangles people's bodies and biology so much more intensely than happens in our everyday life. Strangers roll over each other, get deep into one another's personal space, sweat on each other, and yet it is not primarily sexual though it is quite primal. I wanted to understand what this sense of embodied connection that dancers experience is about, whether it is good for us, whether it is natural, what it can tell us about how to live.
“From practicing contact, I sensed something profound about the way this form makes us feel, and the way it connects us deeply with others, even strangers. The documentary is the result of my inquiry.”
AN INTIMATE DANCE: JOURNEYS THROUGH MOVEMENT AND TOUCH is a feature-length documentary following the lives of three people on and off the dance floor. Albert, a skeptical beginner, is drawn to the embodied presence and connection of a dance form called contact improvisation. Eugene, an all-star athlete, stretches his physical and social limitations from his wheelchair. Rythea, a professionally trained dancer, is catapulted into a journey of self-discovery and healing.
Each practices connecting with others across a point of physical contact, finding safety within the body, learning to be a witness to their own experience. What happens when we press to the edges of our physical and emotional capacities? Can we heal ourselves?
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
The film will give you a very different and fairly direct experience of a different way of being in community with other people. It's a way of interacting that is at once mindful and playful, that can be highly physical or extraordinarily subtle, and that shows the healing and transformative power of movement and touch.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
While we explore the big themes of connection and inclusion, of loneliness and healing from trauma, we do so through specific character stories, journeys with three individuals whose lives are changed by dancing.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
When I started making the film I planned to film a dozen people and follow them for a year as they learned this unique dance form. But I discovered that most of their stories ended up being kind of the same, so I ended up honing in on one of the beginners, named Albert, and adding two other very advanced stories – Eugene who is a quadriplegic and dances, and Rythea, who had a very difficult childhood and is on an intense personal healing journey through dance.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I've been really delighted with the reception for the film. One of my key goals was to make a film about this dance form that could reach people who knew nothing about it. That has proven very successful. For instance, at the premiere, a policeman from Virginia who knew nothing about this dance form watched the film and said unsolicited: “this film is for people like me!” Quite a few people who expect that a film like this might be earnest or boring have proven to be quite engaged, and never having their attention really lag. At the same time, the film has also been satisfying for dancers to watch, resonating with questions that surface in their own dancing about boundaries, sexuality, healing and inclusion.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
I'm just delighted to realize that we succeeded in making a film that works for diverse audiences – people who are familiar with contact improvisation as well as people who know nothing about it.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We need all the exposure we can get!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We definitely still need to find distributors, broadcasters, film festivals, and people who want to program our film as part of inclusive dance festivals to get our film into the world.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would love for millions of people to see the film, and to be personally challenged in a way that alters their relationship to their own bodies and that opens them to having more touch and connection in their lives.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Why is there an epidemic of loneliness in our society? Can mindful movement practices like contact improvisation reduce loneliness and bring us into more embodied connection?
Would you like to add anything else?
Making the film changed me as a filmmaker. It has humbled me, it has deepened my experience of dancing, and it has propelled me to keep exploring the questions of embodied intelligence. It has also propelled me to think about how embodiment is a human rights struggle waged within.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
The filmmaker, Sanford Lewis, is producing a series of audio podcasts based on the interviews and inquiry of the film. The podcast is called Ideas from the Body Mind, and is available at ideasfromthebodymind.com. The focus of the podcast is on how we can create a more inclusive cooperative and sustainable world through tapping the intelligence of the body-mind-embodied or to put it another way, embodied wisdom. It flows directly from the inquiry begun with our film.
Interview: October 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
An intimate dance: journeys through movement and touch
Vulnerability and inclusion meet mindfulness in this documentary about the healing power of movement and touch
Length: 67 minutes
Director: Sanford Lewis
Producer: Sanford Lewis
About the writer, director and producer:
Director/ producer Sanford Lewis has a dual career as an environmental/human rights lawyer and documentary filmmaker. His previous film projects include “Contaminated Without Consent”, “20 Years Without Justice” and “The Truth About Cats, Dogs and Lawn Chemicals”. This is his first feature documentary and a departure from previous films’ themes.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): distributors, film festivals, dance festivals
We have developed a weekend long festival of inclusive and mindful dance that will ideally accompany many screenings of the film. The festival is called everyBODYmoves, and is a laboratory for using mindful movement to explore how to create a more inclusive world.
Funders: self-funded plus crowdfunding
Release date: March 2016