Australian Film Commission
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20 September 2018
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ReelDance: festival report and plans for 2005

Since the inaugural festival in 2000 in a small cinema in Chinatown, ReelDance's premiere event in Sydney has moved to The Studio, Sydney Opera House and a seven city tour has been added, including Auckland in New Zealand. In 2004, ReelDance events ran over five months from July to November. Venues ranged from the state-of-the-art facilities at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne to the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art and the Brisbane Powerhouse. ReelDance will continue to develop its relationship with co-producers and 'customise' the event for each city in 2006 with the aim of targeting and increasing audiences in each city.

This year the festival focused on 'everyday dance' - films that found dance in everyday situations or turned the everyday into dance through editing and post-production. Shorts included David Hinton's Snow which turns ice rinks and snow covered city streets into the stage for a slippery, slapstick dance, and Rachel Davies' Gold featuring teenage gymnasts. The theme continued throughout the festival with documentaries that explored the impact of dance on social and political life. Katrina McPherson's Symphony and Adugna document community dance projects in a women's prison and urban Ethiopia respectively, and Annette von Wagenheim's Dance Under the Swastika traces the impact of politics on dance in Germany during the Nazi era. The Bob Fosse double-bill celebrated the work of a director/choreographer who so successfully blended performance, everyday life and politics in musicals such as Cabaret.

The ReelDance Awards for new Australian and New Zealand dance film, worth $50 000AU in post-production facilities from major sponsor Digital Pictures, attracted films that established a new national standard in the form. The winner was announced at the end of the festival in Sydney - Sue Healey's Fine Line. Narelle Benjamin's On a Wing and Prayer took out Runner-Up and Fiona Cameron and Rohan Jones' Sink the Encouragement Award. Leanne Pooley's documentary on NZ dancer, Douglas Wright, Haunting Douglas, won Best Dance Documentary. The Inside Film People's Choice Award, taken from votes in each tour venue, went to Together by Rowan Marchingo and Madeleine Hetherton with On a Wing and a Prayer taking out 2nd place.

ReelDance is the only regular dance screen festival in Australia and New Zealand. Occurring bi-annually and produced by Sydney-based One Extra dance, the festival and tour aim to present and promote local and international dance screen work, providing screening opportunities for local artists and access to popular and cutting edge international work. The awards encourage local production and through our post-production prize, lend practical support to filmmakers. Focusing on short dance films, documentaries, features and music videos, ReelDance aims to include a broad variety of dance genres from contemporary through social dance styles to classical forms. The main focus of programming is innovative approaches to screening dance where choreographic principles inform every aspect of cinematic production.

Between festivals in 2005, ReelDance will be expanding and consolidating its activities. ReelDance will be setting up a permanent archive in Sydney providing public access to the films accumulated over the festival's 5 year history. ReelDance will continue to support Cinemoves with 4 casual screenings of local artists' work a year taking place at Sydney Dance Company studios, produced by SDC. After the success of Miranda Pennell and John Smith's installations and screenings at Sydney's Performance Space in 2003, a series of dance film and video installations will be curated and presented at the same venue, developing this new strand of programming for ReelDance. ReelDance will continue to assist local filmmakers in exporting their work to international dance screen events through the dissemination of information via the ReelDance email list, through consultation with other curators and via the development of a distribution arm working with Hush Contemporary Arts Media. Assistance to NSW-based artists will also be developed through links with Sydney's new resource for independent choreographers, Critical Path, primarily through a mentorship programme. The need for more specific funding for dance screen will be addressed by a working group facilitated by ReelDance and made up of national representatives and a series of forums will bring funding bodies, broadcasters and filmmakers together. With the 2006 ReelDance Festival in mind, ReelDance will also develop links with tertiary education nationwide, drawing students into screenings and providing resources to educators.

In order to continue to service dance film and video makers in Australia and to develop audiences for this field of artistic practice, we need the continued support of all of you who are interested in the form as artists and audiences. Small festivals such as ReelDance are dependent on government funding and rely on enthusiastic audiences and participants to survive. We look forward to seeing you at ReelDance events throughout 2005 and at the festival when it appears in your city in 2006.