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Written on Water (Escrito sobre el agua)

Written and directed by Pontus Lidberg

  • English with Spanish subtitles
  • 80 minutes

A choreographer falls in love with the star of her show, blurring the boundary between fact and fiction.

Attractively blending film and ballet, Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg tells us a story about the boundaries between fact and fiction in artistic creation.

Alicia (Aurélie Dupont), a happily married choreographer still haunted by an unresolved love affair from her past, searches through the depths of her memories to create Siren, a dance piece about unfulfilled desire. What starts out as fiction soon turns into fact when she falls in love with the lead dancer from her play, Giovanni (Alexander Jones). When Alicia recounts this story to Karl (Pontus Lidberg), they reflect on their experiences as windows to exploring desire and artistic creation. Like in the myth of Odysseus and the mermaids - whose irresistible siren song led sailors to drown in the sea while looking for them - we, as people, spend our lives seeking inspiration, love and connection, even if this means losing ourselves along the way.

Written and directed by Pontus Lidberg | Cast: Aurélie Dupont, Alexander Jones, Pontus Lidberg, Stina Ekblad, Leslie Caron | Choreography: Pontus Lidberg | Original score: Stefan Levin | Pianist: Magnus Svensson | Director of photography: Martin Nisser FSF | Editing: Lars Gustafson | Producers: François Duplat, Amaury Lafarge, Pontus Lidberg | Produced by: Bel Air Media, Written on Water LLC | Distributed by Naxos.

(c) Wendy Whelan

Pontus Lidberg

The creator

Film and ballet in an extraordinary mixture of styles

This Swedish dancer, filmmaker and choreographer, who trained at the Royal Swedish Ballet School and at the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris, has expanded the boundaries of ballet by mixing it with film. His first movie, The Rain (2008), was described by The New York Times as a piece that “illustrates what filmed dance can say that staged dance cannot”. He is currently artistic director of the Danish Dance Theater in Denmark.

-It is a chance to find out more about the work of Pontus Lidberg, who is at the cutting-edge of world dance with his blend of styles. Not only does he explore new formats, but he also invites audiences to find out more about how our emotions influence our view of life. “The permeable boundaries between dance and the drama around it highlight a core idea of the movie: that our subjective perceptions and personal interpretations become our reality. We inhabit our stories, live in our own recollection of past events and past traumas. We project ourselves upon others and then interpret these projections as a reflection of reality”, says Lidberg.

-It is an opportunity to see legendary French-North American actress and dancer Leslie Caron (90) on screen again. Winner of a Golden Globe, she was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress and is one of the most important figures from the golden age of Hollywood musicals, thanks to her starring roles in movies such as An American in Paris with Gene Kelly (1951), Gigi, directed by Vincent Minelli (1858) and Is Paris Burning? with Rock Hudson (1966).

-Its impressive scenes are shot outdoors in nature in Sweden, Havana (Cuba) and in Martha’s Vineyard, with their aquatic ecosystems playing a key role.

Odysseus and the Sirens: According to Greek mythology, these sea creatures were human-animal chimeras; first they were described as women with the bodies of birds and then as women with human torsos and fish tails. Their song was so bewitching that it enchanted sailors and made them dive into the sea to look for them, causing them to drown in the middle of the ocean. If any man refused to fall captive to their charms, one of the sirens had to die. Legend goes that warrior Odysseus was able to resist them, meaning Parthenope had to die.

-Check out Pontus Lidberg’s YouTube channel, where there are videos of his work in ballet and film.

-Find out more about this Swedish choreographer’s new work, which explores the connection between dance and artificial intelligence, in this interview on the Brave New Art YouTube channel.

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