Staying Awake at this Year’s SFF Movie was like Climbing a Hill

Picture is found on Miss Hill Making Dance Matter's facebook page.

Picture is found on Miss Hill Making Dance Matter's facebook page.

Bright and early on Monday morning, freshmen and sophomores schlepped to the bus and traveled to the Hollywood 20 to watch a film about dance legend, Martha Hill.

Since 2012, ODA freshman and sophomores have been invited to the Sarasota Film Festival to see a film as part of the festival’s VIP program for students.  Last year, the film, Maidentrip,  got great reviews as it was about a teenage girl traveling around the world on a boat. Not only was it relatable, but it was inspirational and entertaining. The year before, students saw a documentary about the life of Robert Kennedy’s widow, Ethel. Students remarked that even if you didn’t know much about Kennedy, the story was told so well that the film was intriguing to watch.

This year, ODA students arrived at the cinema with open minds ready to watch another extraordinary film. When the movie began, many were optimistic as they watched interviews of people who knew Martha Hill along with footage of video from the 1930s of women dancing.

Soon, the film became repetitive, and students began to realize that the film was not very enjoyable.

“It was a nice couple of hours for me to relax and sleep, ” says sophomore,  Liz Gaukhman.

“I did not enjoy the movie. I thought it was boring, ” says Balia Bongoura.

Other students thought that the film was edited nicely, but that it portrayed a subject that did not interest high school students. The story was told in a way that was not organized and repetitive to a point where the movie should have been 20 minutes long.  To truly appreciate the film, you had to have a strong interest in dance.

Many students when asked about the film expressed that they thought the filmmaker did a good job collecting information, historic videos, and interviews, but lacked ability to put the information together in a compelling way. The interviews and videos (from the 1930s) were interesting to see the first time. Because footage and memories about Hill’s impact were so repetitive, some students said it was like watching the same film over and over again.

For people who knew the dance icons who were talking about Miss Hill, the film may have been interesting. But for the majority of students, who had no clue who the people were, it was just like listening to an average person say the same thing as the previous interviewee about Miss Hill.

Another criticism of the film was that the film kept saying that Martha Hill influenced many dancers’ lives, however, the film never showed how or what she did to help them become a better dancer. The film may have benifitted from dancers who were influenced by Martha sharing their stories of how she shaped their technique or improved the careers of the dancers.

The film maker could also have engaged a younger audience by showing some other types of dance–perhaps a current style that could relate better to teens.

Unless  sleeping during the film, or taking time to relax, students thought the field trip was pointless.  Hopefully next year the film will be better.