[SFIAAFF Admission Apply]
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“When I first started performing classical and modern dances in New York, I felt I was two halves. In Japan I felt I could fuse the two. They became one,” says Suzushi Hanayagi in The Space in Back of You, a film as compelling as the avant-garde dancer and choreographer it pays tribute to. Director Richard Rutkowski intersperses Suzushi’s quotes with footage of her performances and interviews with her many collaborators, including dance pioneer Anna Halprin, filmmaker Mollie Davies, musician David Byrne, and long-time collaborator Robert Wilson, who simply calls Suzushi “my teacher.” As in Suzushi’s work, the film’s beauty and strength lies in the simplicity with which it handles a complex life, one punctuated by powerful performances, a transnational career, the loss of a child and, eventually, a debilitating disease. Robert Wilson finds her in a home for the elderly in Osaka, suffering with an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. There is much meaning to glean from The Space in Back of You about dance, loss, renewal and memory, yet it also remains abstract, allowing viewers to understand the purity of a life’s movements on its own terms. (Claudia Leung)
Directed by Richard Rutkowski (USA, 2011, 66 min, English, Color, HDCAM)