From Saturday Night Fever to Footloose, dancing has always been a way for the working class to escape their repression. This is also true of the three teens featured in Monkey Dance, who themselves possess an incredible amount of charisma despite being neither John Travolta nor Kevin Bacon. More importantly, their dance also has much more significance – it is a way to reconnect to their culture and their past.
When the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, they tried to extinguish all forms of art, including traditional dancing. With 90% of all practitioners executed, the rest survived by immigrating to places such as Lowell, Massachusetts, where these teens’ parents settled down. Trying to keep alive their customs, they teach their art to their sons and daughters, in hopes that these values would sway them from the vices that afflict today’s young teens.
Julie Mallozzi’s intimately incisive and beautifully observed documentary portrays how the new immigrant generation tackles with the dichotomy of their consumerist existence in America versus their need to respect the sacrifices of their parents. Shot over nearly four years, each of the youths, Linda, Samnang and Sochenda, grows up right in front of the camera before our very eyes. Their joys, sorrows, loss and triumphs are presented to us with vivid candour. In the end, every one of them manages to find a way to make the dance their own, and it is their way of reconciling their past with their future.
Labo’s Last Spin
Director: Allen Tong | Canada 2005 | Video | 8:00 | World Premiere | Director in attendance
It is Toronto-based DJ Labo’s last competition at the DMC World DJ Championships. All he dreams of is finally becoming world champion before retiring. Will he manage to best them all for one final shot at glory? In this documentary, local filmmaker Allen Tong follows the DJ’s preparations and conversations before that fateful night …
Director: David Rowe | USA 2004 | Video | 4:00 | Canadian Premiere
We’ve all been through it – bored in class, dying to get out of school to do what you really love. This perfect slice of high school life shows the escapism that every teen longs for.
The Day The Buffalo Escaped
Director: Madévi Dailly | UK 2004 | Video | 6:00
This heartbreaking animation follows a young Cambodian farm girl and her imaginary water buffalo friend. Though teased and harassed, she is given guidance by a wise monk … until the day the Khmer Rouge arrives at her village.