Spineless: POV is Everything
Sometimes, point of view is everything. It can determine how much we see, how much we understand and how much we believe to be true. It often shapes our entire experience. And film is particularly powerful as a medium for shaping perception. It can be masterful in disguising the truth of a moment simply by virtue of the placement of a camera, and the omission of certain information. Because what we don’t see and what is obscured might be the very thing that creates the point of view entirely.
Such is the case with Spineless, a clever short by Israeli dancer/choreographer Roni Chadash in which the framing creates trickery right before our eyes. Her back is completely hidden, and the expressive, gestural movement of Chadash’s arms and head in the frame, along with the absence of the rest of her torso, creates an almost freakish illusion. Although the camera does not move once and we understand what is hidden, we nevertheless willingly suspend disbelief. The choreography – all arms and face – is smart and familiar… We’ve all felt this way at one point or another. In reading her notes, Chadash explains in broken English that the film is a metaphor for “how we fit ourselves into society, and let other people’s criticism affect us.” “The hands,” she explains, “are a metaphor to the outside influence on our souls.” Spineless is about the influence of other people’s opinions on identity, and losing the very thing that holds us all together as individuals. At just over two minutes, with music by Chilly Gonzales, it’s well worth watching. Enjoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.
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