A DRIFTING UP a film by JACOB LEE. 2022. UK. 10 min. An uplifting portrait of recovery rooted in the inherent joy of dancing.

This film screened exclusively for a week and is currently not available online.

This month, we’re showing a series of dance films that celebrate the magic of motion.


In 2022, the rising London-based artist Jacob Lee decided to film himself dancing while coming off antidepressants. With a boombox in tow, he danced on the streets of London and Bristol in the UK for six weeks, occasionally joined by sympathetic strangers persuaded by a sign he’d made which read: “Coming off antidepressants come dance with me.” His BAFTA-nominated short film about those six weeks is powerfully joyous; it shows dance both as a tool of solidarity and a means of strengthening one’s sense-of-self in the face of mental hardship.


A Drifting Up derives its title from a song by the British electronic producer Jon Hopkins with the same name. In the film, Lee pairs the titular track’s rhythmic pulse with scenes of him doing “a ridiculous Irish jig.” His committed, though self-admittedly comical, dance moves are a mark of his genuine belief in his project to stave off the effects of a harsh come-down and bring awareness to a plight shared by many across the globe.




“I was confident I could translate the feeling I had listening to that song into a film set in London. There is something both sad and uplifting about the song “A Drifting Up,” which was perfect for the subject matter.” JACOB LEE


It took Lee six months to edit down over 100 hours of footage into the final ten-minute version of A Drifting Up. The editing process led him to start taking antidepressants again, but he’s expressed feeling “at peace” with them now. His ups-and-downs with antidepressants reflect “a journey from isolation to connection” rooted in the power of dance.


Jacob Lee is a London-based artist and director. Most of his projects to date have featured dance in some form or another, as music has always played a central role in his art-making. A Drifting Up won the Mental Health Awareness Award and the Best Editing Award at the inaugural Covent Garden Film Festival in London, and was later nominated for Best Short Film at the BAFTAs. More recently, he made a music video about a ballerina for Paranoid London, is working on a stop-motion animation about a fire spirit, and is gearing up to make a feature inspired by Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader.


Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.