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ISADORA’S CHILDREN a film by DAMIEN MANIVEL. 2019. France/South Korea. 84 min. A moving triptych rooted in four women’s encounters with pioneering choreographer Isadora Duncan’s dance Mother, a century after she debuted it.

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 his three-part exploration of Isadora Duncan’s heartrending solo dance from 1921, Mother, the French dancer-turned-filmmaker Damien Manivel traces how four different women express an invisible bond by performing the same dance. Rooted in memory and movement, Manivel’s graceful emotional study reveals how art extends its lineage across generations.

 

Inspired by Manivel’s own encounter with Duncan, Isadora’s Children identifies the gesture of outstretched hands in Mother as a narrative baton by which one woman’s story invites another’s introspection. For Manivel, the film’s flow is “an energy that starts at the first shot and opens itself in the last.”

 

 

“I take from dance the passion for the movement, the taste in the detail and a very particular emotion which does not let itself to be locked up by reason, like a held note, deep… this I try to put in each of my films.” DAMIEN MANIVEL

 

Rather than rehearse Duncan’s solo, Manivel had each actor perform it “as a sketch” so that their sudden gestures would reveal their immediate inner character. Their unique takes on the solo echo Duncan’s belief that dance didn’t belong to anyone and the resonances that emerge between their performances attest to Manivel’s feeling that they all shared an “energy” with Duncan.

 

Damien Manivel was born in Brest, France, in 1981. Before becoming a filmmaker, he was a dancer. After studying at the contemporary arts school Le Fresnoy, he directed a series of acclaimed shorts, including The Lady with the Dog (2010), which won the Special Jury Award at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. Here at Le Cinéma Club, we showed his short film A Sunday Morning (2012) a few years ago. His feature films have screened at Cannes, San Sebastian, and Venice, as well as Locarno where Isadora’s Children won him the Best Director Prize.

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.