Autumn 2012 Documentary series
December 5, 2012 at 7:00pm
Directed by Bess Kargman
Starring Michaela Deprince, Gaya Bommer Yemini and Aran Bell
Rated G ·
Follow in the inspirational footsteps of six talented ballet dancers (ages nine to nineteen) as they struggle to maintain form in the face of injury and personal sacrifice on their way to one of the most prestigious youth ballet competitions in the world. First Position is a feature length documentary about a love of dance and a drive to succeed that trumps money, politics and even war.
With unprecedented (and exclusive) access to the Youth America Grand Prix, the largest competition that awards full scholarships to top ballet schools, First Position takes audiences on a yearlong journey around the world. At a time when art, music and dance for children are severely under-funded, the film reveals the struggles and success, the pain and extraordinary beauty of an art form so many children across the globe are determined to dedicate their lives to…despite the odds.
First Position had its World Premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and was named the audience choice’s 1st runner-up for Best Documentary. It also won the Jury Prize at the San Francisco Doc Fest, the audience award for Best Documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival, the audience award for Best Documentary at the Portland International Film Festival and the audience award for Best Documentary at DOC NYC. Prior to its completion, First Position won the WESTDOC PitchFest. This year, director Bess Kargman won the award of Best New Director at the Portland International Film Festival as well.
“Never putting a foot wrong, tyro helmer Bess Kargman’s touching, enormously satisfying docu First Position follows six gifted ballet students from disparate social, regional, economic and ethnic backgrounds as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious competition where the world’s top dance companies and schools prospect for new talent. Poised for breakout success, the pic combines the built-in drama, tension and suspense of docus such as Spellbound with exciting, beautifully lensed variations performed by the virtuosos of the future. (Alissa Simon, Variety)
“Because its subjects are so driven and so talented, First Position, which is about ballet, is more gripping than the norm. The usual ambivalence a moviegoer might feel toward children whose skilled innocence is exploited on all fronts (by parents, coaches, contest administrators, even the filmmakers) is thrown off balance by the ferocious determination of the kids themselves. They know they’re denying themselves their own childhoods, but when they dance, you understand why.” (Ty Burr, The Boston Globe)