CUNNINGHAM

By Alla Kovgan

Germany, USA, France | In English | 2019 | 92 min 34 sec | PG13 (Some Mature Content)

 

Cunningham traces the artistic development of renowned choreographer Merce Cunningham over three decades of experimentation (1942–1972). During this time, he went from struggling dancer in post-war New York City to one of the 20th century’s most influential figures in modern dance. 

The film presents some of Cunningham’s most iconic performances and collaborations with artists like John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, and Jaspar Johns. These works exemplify his expanded notion of performance as a space where various art forms can exist independently in a common space and time. Director Alla Kovgan presents works such as Totem Ancestor (1942), Suite for Five (1956), Summerspace (1958), Winterbranch (1964), RainForest (1968), and Second Hand (1970) through a mix of archival footage and restagings in new spaces.

Shot in 3D, the film brings the viewer into the performance space and evokes a kinaesthetic response. The use of 3D technology is apt, given Cunningham’s interest in immersive environments and experimenting with the latest technologies of his time. His early explorations with television, video, computers and motion capture allowed him to create in radically new ways and reimagine the body. 

Cunningham premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (2019) and has been screened in numerous international film festivals since.

Alla Kovgan (b. 1973, Russia) is a filmmaker, curator, and educator. Her Emmy-nominated film, Nora (2008), about Zimbabwe-born choreographer Nora Chipaumire, has been presented at over 120 festivals and received 30 awards, including the Eileen Maitland Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2009. She is a recipient of various grants and awards, including a Poynter Fellowship at Yale University (2012) and a Brother Thomas Fellowship (2009) from The Boston Foundation. She co-founded Kinodance Company in 1999 and continues to work on its interdisciplinary collaborations.

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