ScreenDance Fest Combats Toxic Masculinity Through Dance

The Four Stages: A Hysterical Manual, directed by
Amanda Hameline, is part of ScreenDance 2019.
The Four Stages: A Hysterical Manual, directed by Amanda Hameline, is part of ScreenDance 2019. Courtesy of ScreenDance
Bodies swirling in motion, traversing space, and challenging expectations, all on the big screen — that’s ScreenDance Miami, a film festival dedicated to showcasing dance on film.

From Wednesday, January 16, to Saturday, January 19, ScreenDance will project films at three locations: the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, Soundscape Park, and the Perez Art Museum.

“Film and dance are so opposite. Film is lasting and dance is ephemeral, but both have to do with motion at the heart of them. It’s the perfect marriage,” says Pioneer Winter, a Miami-based choreographer and the festival director. “ScreenDance was conceived with the idea that film and dance are vehicles of expression and also vehicles for sharing the lives and challenges of those we might not know about.”

ScreenDance, which is presented by Miami Light Project, consists of feature-length and short-film programming, workshops, and panels. This year, the festival will show two feature-length films. The first is Ma, directed by Celia Rowlson-Hall, which will screen on opening night at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse and be followed by a panel discussion. Winter describes the film as “like a Joan Didion short story [taking place in] Wild West America.”

The second feature-length film is If the Dancer Dances, written and produced by Lise Friedman and Maia Wechsler and presented as part of the Merce Cunningham Centennial. The documentary will be shown outdoors as a WallCast film at Soundscape Park. Winter, who has not yet attended a WallCast screening, is excited to see the film projected on the outside of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center.

The festival’s short films include a Florida focus section, selections from an open call, and student shorts. ScreenDance will also show works from a partnership with Third Horizon Film Festival, a Miami-based fest that focuses on the Caribbean and its diaspora, and the Moving Body-Moving Image Festival, which is organized by the dance program at Barnard College and aims to highlight bodies of color.

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Mental, a world premiere directed by Kim Avendano and David Lorenzo, will debut during ScreenDance.
Courtesy of ScreenDance
Given the political atmosphere, Winter says ScreenDance will commit itself to diversity and progress. “We can choose to ignore what’s happening in the world and let art be separate and art for art’s sake, but I feel like that would be a misuse of this platform,” he says.

“With the current social climate, we need to be really deliberate with programming. This year, we have two feature films, both by women filmmakers, and we have an hour of shorts from Third Horizon and Moving Body-Moving Image. The films will explore topics relevant to social justice, like toxic masculinity. There is a piece called Negotiation, where there is a pas de deux between two men of color. It looks at the politics of male masculinity.”

Winter, who also runs his dance company Pioneer Winter Collective, has directed ScreenDance for three years. “I’m really excited. It’s our sixth year and each year, we take a step forward. Last year, for the first time, we showed a feature-length film. This year, we added an additional feature-length film and created new partnerships,” he says. “ScreenDance is a really great way for us to cross-pollinate with our audience, from gallery-goers to film buffs to dancers. It intersects many different areas of our community.”

ScreenDance Miami Festival 2019. Wednesday, January 16, to Saturday, January 19, at various Miami locations; Tickets range from free to $10.
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Minhae Shim Roth is an essayist, journalist, and academic.
Contact: Minhae Shim Roth