With the lobby of the Hackney Picturehouse heaving with exciting vibes and tight nit culture – the audience waiting to get into the sold out opening screening for the Fringe! Film Festival. In its third year now, it has brought and championed some real treats of queer cinema to East London screens as well as workshops, talks and parties that get the community bursting at the seams. Run by a team of hard-working volunteers, their 2013 programme is impressive in variety and looks set to entertain, explore and challenge the minds and hearts of the queer community.
Five Dances was the opening film of 2013’s festival. Directed by Alan Brown it is a poetic and free movement narrative piece about young 18 year old dancer, Chip (Ryan Steele) who is caught up in his new life in New York while hooks and strings from his Midwest hometown try to cling on to him as he moves more and more into the contemporary dance scene.
Technically, Alan Brown has hit the perfect note – the way the camera moves and the bold stripped down presentation of narrative is both effective, meditative and brings a real presence of robust sensuality to the audience. Filmed in just 12 days, there is a raw energy that flows right through it, this along with the structure is key to where this movie works. By interspersing stripped down narrative sequences with rehearsals of five different but loosely related dances – it really is a genius move. Thematic seeds are constantly being planted, and in these dance sequences they are watered and grow without you even realizing.
Unfortunately, there are two types of seeds being planted, one is the themes of youthful experimentation and the pressures of hometown grip – and this thematic combination is fascinating and the foundations for these are solid from the start. However, the other seed is one of sexuality and passion and it a shame to say that these seeds don’t ever really sprout. The relationship of our young protagonist with his fellow dancer seems so shoehorned in and the chemistry between the two feels constructed and contrived that at its worst, just felt like two pieces of meat rubbing against each other.
There is a lot to appreciate with this movie, it is ambitious and the unique boldness of presentation is truly to be admired. But there is an unbalanced weight in the form of the centrepiece relationship, however there is enough subtle strikes and feathery tones that surround it to leave some of the themes lingering up and around in your head.
Director: Alan Brown
Cast: Ryan Steele, Reed Laplau, Kimiye Corwin, Catherine Miller, Luke Murphy
Runtime: 83 mins
Cert UK: TBC