How to integrate your work into a Screendance festival?


Screendance has existed since the invention of cinema. But this hybrid art form, also known as “dance film” and “cinemadance”, has until now remained a marginal genre of cinema. During the pandemic, the screen has arguably become the most popular place for dancers to explore their craft.

With the multitudes of credentials that now exist, newer artists on the scene may wonder where to share their creations, other than on the Internet.

An option ? Film festivals. Although there were only a handful of these festivals during the first decades of their existence, since 2004 there has been a boom in new ones. Today there are well over 300 such festivals around the world. As a strong network of events and initiatives dedicated to providing platforms for screendance to thrive, they present a wide range of opportunities that the internet cannot.

There are a lot of things to consider when trying to discern which festivals are best suited for your job: the types of films that a festival typically schedules (each has its own vibe, many even have a specific focus, like justice social), the length of a film, the cost of registration, whether a film will have one screening or more, whether you can attend, and networking and distribution opportunities. Fortunately, there are enough festivals that most works find a place to be screened, supported and celebrated.

So what do the curators of screendance festivals look for when considering showing a work? As director and curator of Movies by Movers at ADF, an annual international film dance festival held under the auspices of the American Dance Festival, I spoke with peers from festivals across the United States to get their thoughts.

Dance in front of the camera

Celebrating its 49th year, the Dance on Camera Festival is the oldest performance festival in the world. The festival is an initiative of the long-standing Dance Films Association, a non-profit organization committed to the preservation and cultivation of dance films since 1956.

Criteria: Dance on Camera includes documentaries, narrative films, animated and experimental films and music videos. Ron Honsa, president of the Dance Films Association, says the curatorial team is primarily looking for pieces “where the cinematography has been designed around how best to fit in with the choreography, and the choreography is designed to take advantage of visual. film medium. ”In other words, filmed performances and archival footage are not at the center of its programming.

Site: The historic Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center in New York City. This year’s festival will feature virtual and on-site screenings.

Opportunities: In addition to screenings, the artists in attendance take advantage of a multitude of networking events, workshops and labs, and opportunities for their films to be included in touring programs, thus extending the life of their works. DFA member artists are eligible to apply for production grants, which are awarded to three ongoing projects each year.

Submission fees: $ 50 to $ 100

ScreenDance Miami

ScreenDance Miami is one of many offerings from the Miami Light Project, a non-profit organization that supports South Florida artists through grants, commissions, and platforms to share their work.

Criteria: Pioneer Winter, who has been running the festival since 2017, says: “We are primarily looking for relevance, timeliness and socio-cultural climate awareness. We’re looking for something thoughtful and innovative: well-executed dance films that need to have strong production support, but something that integrates the performance aesthetics of movement with cinema. The emphasis should be on choreography, performance, cinematography and editing technique. “

Site: Miami, Florida

Opportunities: Like other festivals, ScreenDance Miami offers workshops and networking events for artists, and has started delving into virtual reality and other dance tech offerings for upcoming festivals.

Submission fees: Unlike many festivals that charge a submission fee, ScreenDance Miami accepts submissions for free.

West dance camera

Dance Camera West was founded in 2001 by Kelly Hargraves and Lynn Kessler. As one of the West Coast’s largest and longest-running screendance festivals, DCW has strived to bring together unique projection blocks that show the breadth of the screendance landscape while supporting artists from across the city. practical way.

Criteria: Hargraves mentions that because the festival’s curatorial team is so large – up to 40 people – DCW accepts a range of work, from DIY to big-budget production. For Hargraves, the value of a film lies in whether or not it engages the viewer viscerally. “The most important question for me is, ‘Does this film affect you physically or emotionally? Do you actually feel your body catching the beat when you watch? So I try to keep that kinesthetic connection, even through the movie. “

Site: Los Angeles, California

Opportunities: Recently, DCW launched an Online Filmmaker Mentorship Cohort hosted by Hargraves. In addition, an individual mentoring program pairs BIPOC artists who have submitted their work to the festival with veterans in the field who help them polish and finalize the work in progress.

Submission fees: $ 25 to $ 50

KNOwBOX Dance Film Festival

When the kNOwBOX Dance Film Festival was conceived in 2018 by Martheya Nygaard and YeaJean Choi as one of the activities of the large-scale kNOwBOX Dance initiative, the aim was to ‘challenge the possibilities of what dance may look like in video form ”. Today, this goal remains in the foreground. Films representing a variety of cultures, genres, aesthetic styles and technological approaches are researched and screened at events around the world.

Criteria: The festival has a variety of submission categories, from the short summer kNOwBOX Dance series (one minute or less, intended for social media) to dance films and documentaries up to 35 minutes. Curators seek works that “explore an innovative approach to collaboration, mixed media and interdisciplinary filmmaking”.

Site: Several cities in the United States and abroad

Opportunities: The festival provides participating artists with social media and website features, opportunities to be featured on the Dance behind the screen podcast, cash stipends and opportunities for festival alumni to serve as paid panelists. #MEETTHEMAKERS, “a free behind-the-screen conversation with filmmakers after the screening,” brings artists and audiences face to face for meaningful interactions.

Submission fees: $ 1 to $ 30

ADF films by movers

The American Dance Festival, one of the world’s premier dance festivals, bringing together world-class choreographers, performers and teachers each summer in Durham, North Carolina, has been celebrating screendance for 25 years.

ADF Movies by Movers was formed in 2016 when Movies by Movers, an independent North Carolina screendance festival that I ran, merged with the existing ADF screendance festival, formerly run by Douglas Rosenberg.

Criteria: ADF Movies by Movers is a celebration of the conversation between the moving body and the camera. The festival accepts short films (up to 20 minutes), feature films (20 to 40 minutes) and feature films (over 45 minutes) in the narrative, experimental, animation and documentary genres by professionals and students. The festival is primarily interested in films that push the boundaries of what “dance” includes and seeks films that present a variety of bodies, identities, aesthetic approaches and traditions of movement.

This year, due to COVID-19, artist presentations, a retrospective, roundtable, and three-week online screendance workshop are replacing the more traditional screenings the festival is known for. Regular submissions will return in the fall.

Site: Durham, North Carolina

Opportunities: Apart from the screendance festival activities which include screenings and workshops, participating artists are invited to take advantage of the varied offerings of the American Dance Festival as a whole. Artists can take classes on site and receive free tickets to a show of their choice. Artists also have the option of including their work under the Institutional Partnership Initiative, which sends screenings to college campuses and community institutions nationwide.

Submission fees: $ 15 to $ 45

5 tips for success

1. Remember that a true screen dance is one, some, or all of the following: site specific, camera specific, montage specific. A screendance is not just a filmed dance. It’s an intentional mix of dance and cinema.

2. Open a FilmFreeway account to browse festivals and submit your work. Read the descriptions and rules of the festival carefully. Often, artists apply without knowing if their work is suitable or even eligible. Other good platforms for finding festival calls include Dancing Opportunities and Dance / NYC.

3. If funds are an issue, many festivals have a number of waivers that they can grant to artists in need of financial assistance. You just have to ask. Additionally, some festivals have funds that they can provide for travel. Other festivals have screening fees paid to artists when their works are screened. Again, read the fine print.

4. When attending a festival, do as many suggested activities as possible. Go to screenings that don’t include your film. Be engaged and ask questions during question-and-answer sessions. Attend the opening and closing galas. Attend workshops and special presentations. Apply to give your own workshops and presentations, if space is available. You never know who you will meet, who will see your work, and what doors may open.

5. Most of all, have fun! We have waited a long time to be together again. The 2021 season will feature hybrid events, some online and some in person if possible. All-live events are expected to resume from 2022.


Gerald R. Schneider

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