Q&A with director Shirley Sun
Set in historic Kyoto, the fictional story of RAkU is based on a true event, the burning of a sacred temple by a deranged monk. Yuri Possokhov’s choreography for prima ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan mingles Japanese Noh theater and elements of Butoh with classical and contemporary ballet styles to create a powerful dance drama. The film begins with Russian-born Possokhov and his team making plans over vodka and borscht, then moves into an intense rehearsal process, and culminates in a breathtaking performance by Yuan Yuan and her male partners—Damian Smith and Pascal Molat—as they enact this passionate tale of love and revenge. New York Premiere
Birds in the Earth
Marja Helander, Finland, 2018, 11m
Young ballet students Birit and Katja Haarla move as regal birds through a beautiful but contested area of Scandinavia, where the indigenous Sami people may be under siege. The film, simultaneously humorous and melancholy, hints at ideas of land misappropriation and fading traditional customs.