Under normal circumstances the beauty of a dance film festival is far from underappreciated, but when you factor in a global pandemic, the screendance landscape changes. Dance on film quickly becomes the safest and most creative way to engage audiences while everyone is cooped up in their homes. Which means In/Motion, Loyola University Chicago’s eight-year-old international dance film festival, is more essential than ever.
On Jan. 23 and 30, artists and art-enthusiasts alike have the opportunity to get lost in the jury-selected, socially-charged dance films from around the world that make up this year’s In/Motion Dance Film Festival. As a way of ensuring accessibility and safety, all events are online and free with prior registration on the festival’s website.
Key topics in this year’s festival include environmental justice, the complexities of family histories, an in-depth exploration of Indian voices in dance film and social justice activism. In/Motion marketing director Sarah Flugel commented on what went into cultivating the festival’s content this year. “In the past we’ve had a very small team and we’ve curated from that team, but this year it was really important that we had a broader spectrum of identities in the room making decisions.” For the first time, In/Motion included a guest curatorial team in charge of the first round selections—said team included 2020 Chicago Dancemakers Forum grantee Erin Kilmurray, 2020 3Arts awardee J’Sun Howard and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater rehearsal director Joshua L. Ishmon.
Of the 174 submissions from 28 countries around the world, the panel selected 14 films, including “DanzLenz” by the Kri Foundation (an Indian activist organization merging the arts and civic engagement), Flavia Devonas Hoffmann's exploration of the relationship between man and the Arctic in "Human Habitat," and “Leverage” by local choreographer Rachel Damon and filmmaker Aaron Greer. Plus, there's an Emerging Artist Showcase and showing of “Family Tree,” by Sarah Cullen-Fuller and Talia Koylass with students from Loyola’s dance program. As a festival partner, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance hosts an International Juried Screening and showing of Koylass and Rena Butler’s “A Tale of Two,” recently premiered by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.
“This festival and partnership has really offered us [at the Harris Theater] entry into the world of dance films,” said Meghan McNamara, director of marketing and audience development at the Harris. “This has really been a whole new world for us. We’re figuring out how to make programming available virtually that is both meaningful and connects with our audiences, and work that doesn’t just feel like a poor substitute for that live dance connection that we all love and crave.”
When looking at the amalgamation of artistic voices who are contributing to the collection this year, Wilkinson is pleased to have maintained the inclusivity of voices akin to years past. “In/Motion has always been committed to representing a plurality of voices. But it’s also here to serve a larger purpose of equity and justice," said Wilkinson. "COVID aside, the world we’re living in right now feels volatile, unpredictable, scary, tragic and challenging in ways that are hard to process. I think all of us who are involved in creative work feel more strongly than ever that the world needs creatives to serve as conduits for change and healing, to challenge inequity and lift the human spirit.”
In/Motion International Dance Film Festival takes place Jan. 23 and 30. All events are online and free with registration. Registration is open for all events except for “A Tale of Two,” which opens on Jan. 19. Those who register for the Emerging Artist Showcase and the International Juried Screening will have access to the premiere for one extra week. For more dates, times, registration and information visit the event page below.