THE MIGRANT BODY, 12min., USA
Directed by Paula Gil Higa, Cal Hopwood
This film examines human migration through the creative lens of PH Dance's Artistic Director, Paula Higa. Deriving from her personal experience as a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States, Higa researched various motives for individual displacement. People migrate for many reasons, from new life experiences to security, from demography to human rights, and from socio-economic grounds to climate change. Thus, this performance focuses on the meaning of self-discovery by uncovering physical geography, the gap between past and present, and the sense of not having a home. Dancemaker Paula Higa proposes a reflection on who is not a migrant in this world.
Get to know filmmaker Paula Gil Higa:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
I feel that as an immigrant and artist, I have the agency to engage my audience in critical thinking. As someone who has witnessed and experienced the struggles and challenges faced by immigrants firsthand, I felt compelled to share these perspectives with a wider audience. I wanted to shed light on the human side of immigration and show the world that we as individuals are always looking for changes, new experiences, and exploring new environments. Through my film, I hope to inspire empathy, compassion, and understanding, and to spark meaningful dialogue about who is not a migrant in this world.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
It took me about two and half years to transcribe what I had in my mind to the physical product. This film has also a live version where the dancers from my dance company represent the film narrative through a 45-minute-long theatre-dance performance. I spent a lot of time elaborating, creating, and producing this project.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Consciousness and freedom
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Time. I am a dance scholar, a mother, a wife, an artist, and an individual. Managing my time between my professional and personal life was challenging. Luckily, I had an amazing production manager, Haley Bradstreet, who was a trustful and reliable help. Haley has been in my dance company for six years. She is a classically trained ballet dancer with a background in dance education, performance, and administration.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I got really emotional. I love creating metaphors in my works and leaving room for my audience to sense my message in its plurality. Oh, it filled my soul with joy hearing from the audience about the details in the film, the intrinsicality of the gestures in the choreography, sound, intensity, and integrity of the dancers' performance, and other terrific analytical points. I appreciated all the comments for The Migrant Body.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
It was during the 2020 pandemic. I could not produce any live performances with my company due to the Covid restrictions. I was feeling frustrated because I just had choreographed a duet examing women in a patriarchal society. Then, I private donor offered me financial support to create something during the pandemic. I thought, what can I do instead of a theatre show? Epiphany moment, a film!
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Honestly, Back to the Future. As a teenager, I was in love with Michael J. Fox. My uncle worked in the cinema industry in Brazil. I could watch films for free anytime I wanted. I watched Back to the Future in the theater 10 times!
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
I am very satisfied with the format Experimental, Dance & Music Film Festival offers to filmmakers. The feedback session is super valuable. I wonder if the festival could serve as a gateway for awarded winners to get funds for future productions.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How have your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
It was super simple and fast. I highly recommend this platform.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Seafood. You want to see me happy, so invite me to eat a paella.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I want to continue promoting my film and tour with the live performance version of the film. I have a talented cast of dancers and I believe the world needs to meet them. In addition, both film and performance are a powerful message that we are all under one roof, the planet Earth.