Saturday, June 22, 2024
June 22, 2024

‘Call Me Dancer’ final Best of the Fests film



The Salt Spring Film Festival wraps up this season’s very popular “Best of the Fests” film series with the joyfully celebratory documentary Call Me Dancer at ArtSpring on Wednesday, Feb. 21, just a week prior to the annual documentary film festival, which runs from March 1 to 3 at Gulf Islands Secondary School.

A naturally talented self-taught street acrobat, Manish Chauhan dreams of one day becoming a professional dancer on the world stage, but seemingly insurmountable odds are stacked against him. Both his father and grandfather are taxi drivers, and Manish is expected to follow a traditional path, as his hardworking parents are relying on their son’s future financial support in their retirement years.

“Dancing is a hobby for rich kids,” his father tells him, dismissing Manish’s impractical dream. Other than his beloved grandmother —who encourages him to follow his heart — Manish’s extended family criticizes his parents, shaming them because Manish is unemployed and seems to want to do nothing more than waste his time dancing.

Dreaming of an unlikely future and struggling to break free from the confines of his economic and social circumstances, Manish doesn’t tell his parents that he has secretly dropped out of school and used the tuition to pay for classes at Mumbai’s DanceWorx, an inner-city performing arts academy.

In this classic Horatio Alger story of a determined young man without means who makes a success of himself with the help of a benevolent older mentor, Manish has the good fortune to cross paths with the curmudgeonly Yehuda Maor, a self-exiled Israeli dance instructor. Recognizing the young man’s potential, Yehuda encourages a rivalry between Manish and adolescent ballet prodigy Amiruddin Shah.

Disadvantaged by a late start to ballet, Manish is instead directed to try his hand at modern dance at the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company in Israel, while Amir is fast-tracked to the Royal Ballet School in London. Nothing can stand in the way of Manish realizing his dream, however, which he pursues — despite repeated setbacks — all the way to the bright lights of Broadway. Filmed in India, the U.K., Israel and the U.S., this family-friendly crowd-pleaser is co-directed by Pip Gilmour and former professional dancer Leslie Shampaine, who provides an insider’s perspective on the passion that drives dancers past the pain in order to achieve greatness.

A story of hope, heartache and hard work, Call Me Dancer has received accolades and standing ovations at film festivals around the world, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, where it won an audience award in October.

Co-presented by Dance Your Ability, tickets to Call Me Dancer are $13 each and available via the ArtSpring box office, where full film festival passes are also available for advance purchase.

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