JDIFF 2012: Nightdancers

Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012

Irish:

Nightdancers

Friday, 24th February, 6.10pm, Cineworld

Cannibals, breakdance and Uganda – not your typical Irish documentary, Emile Dinneen’s Nightdancers provided a fascinating insight into a generation’s struggle with their own cultural and spiritual beliefs. The film charts the journey of Tabu Flo, a group of Ugandan dancers, who are given the opportunity to realize their dreams of fame by bringing their art to the big stage in London after festival organizer Jonzi D invites them to perform as part of Breakin Convention, an international hip-hop theatre festival based in London.

In order to communicate something of their own culture in their performance, the group incorporated the narrative of the nightdancers into their routine. Nightdancers are semi-mythological fire-breathing human-flesh eaters.  As the documentary progresses we see how the group struggle with their decision to base their show on the nightdancers as their research into the phenomenon uncover its complexities and has a profound effect on them.

The film that was shown as part of the 2012 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival was not a final cut so we’ll have to wait for the finished product of a journey that the film’s been on for a number of years.

Director Emile Dinneen and the film’s producer Nicky Gogan were present for a lively Q&A session after the screening. Emile told the audience how the project began when he was living out in Kampala in 2006 where he helped to start a community centre teaching kids how to breakdance. He had been filming the development of the centre and the dancers there and once he met with Jonzi D it was a great opportunity to take what they’d been doing in Kampala onto the next level, onto a bigger stage.

The film combines sharp storytelling, striking imagery and hypnotic editing to maintain a delicate balance between its darker journey into the soul with the ambitious journey of the dancers and the spectacle of performance.  Still a work in progress, nevertheless Nightdancers showed enough promise to take shape as an enthralling documentary providing an intimate portrayal of its charismatic characters and intriguing subject matter.

Steven Galvin

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