S.O.U.L. FEST 2021


USA 2021, 82 mins
Director: Jamila Wignot

+ pre-recorded Q&A with director Jamila Wignot

The multi-hyphenate dancer, choreographer, director Alvin Ailey gets the documentary treatment from director Jamila Wignot. Premiering at S.O.U.L Film Fest, the film chronicles Ailey’s rise while exploring the challenges he had to face performing in a segregated America.

Alvin Ailey was a trailblazing pioneer who found salvation through dance. Ailey traces the full contours of this brilliant and enigmatic man whose search for the truth in movement resulted in enduring choreography that centres on the Black American experience with grace, strength, and unparalleled beauty. Told through Ailey’s own words and featuring evocative archival footage and interviews with those who intimately knew him, director Jamila Wignot weaves together a resonant biography of an elusive visionary.

Director’s Statement
Nothing prepares you for the experience of Ailey – the emotional, spiritual, aural, and visual overwhelm the senses. As a filmmaker, I am drawn to stories about artists like Alvin Ailey – innovators who tenaciously follow their own voice and in doing redefined their chosen forms. Ailey’s dances – celebrations of African American beauty and history – did more than move bodies; they opened minds. His dances were revolutionary social statements that staked a claim as powerful in his own time as in ours: Black life is central to the American story and deserves a central place in American art and on the world stage. A working class, gay, Black man, he rose to prominence in a society that made every effort to exclude him. He transformed the world of dance and made space for those of us on the margins – space for Black artists like Rennie Harris and me.

I am inspired by subjective documentary portraits like Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, and by the poetic cinematic approaches of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. My aim was to blend these influences into a sensorial, poetic documentary portrait.
Jamila Wignot, Press Notes

Jamila Wignot is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. Her directing work includes two episodes of the Peabody, Emmy and NAACP award-winning series The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (PBS), hosted by Henry Louis Gates and chronicling the 500-year history of African Americans; Town Hall (co-directed with Sierra Pettingill), a feature-length co-production with ITVS following Tea Party activists determined to unseat Barack Obama; and, for PBS’s American Experience series, the Peabody Award-winning Triangle Fire and Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman. Jamila’s producing credits include W. Kamau Bell’s Bring the Pain (A&E); Sundance award-winning director Musa Syeed’s narrative feature A Stray (SXSW); Street Fighting Men, following the Black Detroiters fighting for the city they love; and The Rehnquist Revolution, the fourth episode of WNET’s series The Supreme Court, which was an IDA Best Limited Series winner.

Our Bodies Back
Our Bodies Back stages the work of acclaimed American poet and performance artist Jessica Care Moore in a breathtaking new dance film from Breakin’ Convention Artistic Director and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Jonzi D.

Director: Jamila Wignot
Executive Producers: Stephen Ives, Amanda Pollak, Michael Kantor, Emily Blavatnik, Judy Kinberg, Sally Jo Fifer, Tony Hsiegh, Roberto Grande, Mimi Pham, Bryn Mooser, Kathryn Everett, Jenny Raskim, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully
Producer: Lauren DeFilippo
Associate Producer: Matt Gottesfeld
Production Associates: Bernard Ellouk, Amanda Lalezarian, Lillie Fleshler
Archival Producer: Rebecca Kent
Director of Photography: Naiti Gámez
Editor: Annukka Lilja
Assistant Editor/Post Production Supervisor: William Bentley
Additional Assistant Editors: Cory Smith, Ally Southwood-Smith
Graphics: John Vondracek, String Theory Ny
Composer: Daniel Bernard Roumain
Additional Original Score: Sultana Isham, Minna Choi, Darrin Ross
Researcher: Saoirse Hahn

Robert Battle
Rennie Harris
Darrin Ross
Don Martin
Mary Barnett
Linda Kent
George Faison
Judith Jamison
Bill Hammond
Sylvia Waters
Hope Clark
Sarita Allen
Masazumi Chaya
Bill T. Jones

USA 2021
82 mins

Director: Jonzi D.

UK 2020
5 mins

S.O.U.L. FEST 2021 Preview: Rebel Dread + Pre-recorded Q&A with Don Letts
Fri 20 Aug 20:45
S.O.U.L Fest Symposium
Sat 21 Aug 12:00
UK Premiere: Ailey + pre-recorded Q&A with director Jamila Wignot
Sat 21 Aug 17:50
Exclusive Preview: Candyman + Pre-recorded cast intro
Sun 22 Aug 18:30
Film4 and Fruit Tree Media present: Foresight
Sun 22 Aug 16:00

For updates visit soulfilmfest.co.uk

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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