Richard Raymond has teamed up with internationally renowned dancer and choreographer Akram Khan to bring his directorial debut DESERT DANCER to the big screen. The British film stars Slumdog Millionaire’s Frieda Pinto as well as Reece Ritchie and Tom Cullen.
Set in Iran, where dance is illegal and punishable by prison – DESERT DANCER is the incredible true story of Afshin Ghaffarian who risks everything to fight for his dreams.
The story follows Afshin as he hacks into YouTube (also banned in Iran) and teaches himself how to dance by watching music videos – everything from Michael Jackson and Bob Fosse to Pina Bausch, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. With YouTube as his teacher, Afshin starts an underground dance company at university with his friends. As their skills develop the group put on a secret dance performance deep in the desert. Their story plays out against the 2009 protests, when the passion and defiance of a young generation lit the flame of revolution still sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
Director Richard Raymond said: “When I first discovered this story, I immediately connected with it and felt compelled to share it with the widest audience. It’s a story that provokes unity and reminds us of the hope to be found in human resilience and in the simple determination to fight for what is right.
“This film reflects a belief that we should all have the same rights and basic freedoms, no matter where we come from. And most importantly, we should all have the opportunity to realise our dreams.”
He added: “It has been a privilege and a great experience to collaborate with Akram, whose interpretation of dance is not just visually mesmerising but also beautifully spiritual and it is a testament to the passion and love surrounding this film that such a talented and dedicated cast have worked so hard in training with us.”
Choreographer Akram Khan said: “This film is the beginning of the end of a tradition of trying to capture dance… Because this film is not just about dance, but about the very purpose and reason why dance is so important in our lives.
“I am extremely excited to be working alongside the vision and passion of Richard, where at once, he sees and captures the true essence of the body. Not only is the story an inspiring one about the struggle to free oneself from a political regime through dance, but it is also the very freedom we all have a right to have, regardless of what country, what nationality, or what culture we come from. Dance transcends these boundaries, and film allows us to witness the fleeting moments of the soul in action. I feel this film reveals just that.”
DESERT DANCER also stars Nazanin Boniadi, who is an official spokesperson for Amnesty International USA and has campaigned against the unjust conviction and treatment of Iranian youth, women and prisoners of conscience.
The film will start Principal Photography in Casablanca on October 17th 2012, before moving to London and then finally Paris. DESERT DANCER will be released in the UK in 2013.
I went to the special staff preview screening of BBC Films’ Brighton Rock at Vue Westfield.
The movie features Sam Riley (Control) as the psychopathic Pinkie Brown. He stars alongside John Hurt (Harry Potter), screen legend Helen Mirren (The Queen), Andrea Riseborough (Made in Dagenham), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) and distinguished actor Pete Postlethwaite, who recently passed away.
Brighton Rock is based on Graham Greene’s 1938 novel of the same name and it is a remake of a 1947 film directed by John Boulting under the same title. Both novel and film are set in the 1930s, but this Rowan Joffe film has been moved to 1964 during the Mods and Rockers era. Here’s the trailer:
The film’s UK release is 4th of February.
Filmmakers: are you up for a challenge? Here’s a message from my friends at The Producers’ Forum:
SATURDAY 19th FEBRUARY 2011
In partnership with The Producers’ Forum, Stoke Your Fires will be launching its first ever 48 Hour Film Challenge.
Stretch your creativity, test your filmmaking skills, and get your work seen by some of the region’s top filmmaking talent on the big screen during the festival.
There will be 2 categories
- Under 18
- Over 18
A trophy will be awarded to the best film in each category and the winning films will be screened as part of the festival. Also the winners of Under 18 category will each receive a £10 HMV voucher, and the winners of the Over 18 category will each win 6 months Associate Membership to The Producers’ Forum.
Once you’ve made your film you can also enter it into other festivals and competitions (information of suggested festivals and competitions will be emailed to participants).
Films can be shot in any location across the globe but must be based on our specific theme and include a selected prop, details of which will be released at the start of the competition at 10:00 on Saturday 19th February.
Films can be shot in any format and with any kit (from HD cameras to your mobile phone). All completed films must be between 1-3 minutes in length and uploaded to YouTube by the end of the 48 hours to be included in the competition.
Teams are limited to a maximum of 5 members only (the oldest member of the group’s age will dictate the group category).
Entry fee: under 18 – £10; over 18- £15.
You must register for your place in the competition and have paid your entry fee before Friday 18th February.
For full competition details or to register please contact The Producers’ Forum
Email: email@example.com or call 0121 265 7145.
Visit the website to find out more about Stoke Your Fires, The Festival of Moving Image 2011
So, today we were away from unit base, which is the Hare and Hounds, and shot scenes from the Turbulence characters’ flats. It was a day of crash mats, tight jeans, scantily clad young women and naked Tai Chi… yes, you read it right, naked Tai Chi. I Twitpic’d this photo before actor David Alwyn, who plays the role of Christian in the film, showed off his birthday suit. Sorry ladies, this was how far I was allowed to show.
David was such a good sport and did ever so well today having had to do his nude scene in front of a big group of people. We chatted over a packet of crisps and here’s what he had to say:
I’ve always wanted to do a feature film and so I immediately took the chance when I got asked to get involved as New Media Producer in upcoming movie Turbulence. Produced by award-winning Natasha Carlish and directed by two-times BAFTA winner Michael Baig-Clifford, this film has been described as Friends meets Glee. Today, I met some of the actors and production team at the newly refurbished MAC. I’m very much looking forward to working with new (and not so new but friendly) peeps. This project is definitely active online, so no doubt, see you soon.
Here’s a video of the actors improvising. Watch more on YouTube:
Read the blurb about it:
TURBULENCE is an Indie Musical Comedy. The project is a collaboration between the actors David Alwyn, Adrian Banks, Emma Devereaux, Connor Mills, Shay O’Driscoll and Sophie Waller (all recent graduates of Birmingham School of Acting) and BAFTA award winning producer/director team Natasha Carlish and Michael B Clifford. Other exciting collaborators in the project are Adam Regan and the Hare & Hounds, The Scholars, Aquila and Katy Pryce.
The project has evolved over a number of months. It was born out of Natasha and Michael’s desire to explore the world of social media networking and the exciting opportunities it presents filmmakers. So far a number of the characters in the film have FaceBook pages - CLICK HERE to see the Characters’ Page – but further online activity plans to develop wider interest in the film. Because Michael and Natasha are relatively new to this world, they wanted to challenge themselves to make the film in order to better understand its potential and to see what all the fuss is about!