The Philippines’ premiere dance film festival, Fifth Wall Fest, invites us to celebrate the infinite possibilities of movement on camera.
Dance has always been important for the arts, such as in the world of cinema. This is what Fifth Wall Fest aims to celebrate. And this October, it’s back to grace us with its movement-centered offering once more as it holds its third edition this year. After its opening at the Samsung Performing Arts Theater with a screening of Cirio H. Santiago’s classic Happy Days Are Here Again last night, the Philippines’ first-ever international dance film festival will bring us transportive films, performances, and installations until October 16.
MOVEMENT IN FOCUS
Since 2020, Fifth Wall Fest has been providing a platform for local and international dance communities to celebrate dance on camera and offer them a space for visibility, engagement, and education.
The woman behind it is the ballet wunderkind Anna Margarita Reyes. “Dancing is my form of walking,” she says in an interview. “If you count baby ballet, I’ve been doing it for about 26 years. My whole life practically. I just never stopped and I just always wanted to dance.” At 16, Madge, as she is also known, won the Luva Adamaeit Special Award, a prestigious recognition for outstanding Filipina dancers, and joined the Ballet Philippines at the tender age of 19. In 2012, Madge was promoted to Soloist and became one of the younger soloists in the company at 21 years old.
“The festival wants to break this wall,” Madge explains, referring to that transcendent, metaphorical wall between the audience and stage from which the name of the festival is inspired. “We want to bring dance closer to people in the hopes that someday it will be the other way around. We want people to want dance.”
Apart from giving a carefully curated selection of classic and contemporary dance films on-site and online, Fifth Wall Fest also has its own movement-centric production arm through FWFilms, which has already produced films like the Museo Pambata-inspired Treasure (2021), Serpentine (2021), which pays homage to the Serpentine Dance pioneered by Loïe Fuller in the 1890s, and a short dance film Happy Day (2020) featuring Steps Dance Studio and Likha PH. They also have an online journal dedicated to enlightening content about the dance film genre and its plurality.
DANCE FROM ALL ANGLES
This year, Fifth Wall Fest invites us to “celebrate dance from all angles” and to immerse ourselves with the “exploration of what it means to move in–and be moved by–diverse contexts, spaces, and bodies.” Co-presented by Search Mindscape Foundation, the festival boasts a 53-film lineup and a hybrid slate of events that will sate your desire for everything dance.
Earlier this year, Fifth Wall Fest also launched an open call for its Competition section which “encourages innovative explorations that challenge the visual, spatial, temporal, and bodily possibilities for dance on camera.” Its jury is composed of world-renowned judges like Biag Gaongen, the Associate Artistic Director of Locsin Dance Workshop who’s also a dance filmmaker himself, Marisa Hayes, founding co-director of Festival International de Vidéo Danse de Bourgogne, Marc Wagenbach, member of the board of directors of TANZRAUSCHEN and co-founder of the European dance film lab: the migrating Artists Project (mAPs), Gabri Christa, founding director of Moving Body-Moving Image Festival, and Omari ‘Motion’ Carter, founder and creative director of The Motion Dance Collective. The six shortlisted competition films are now accessible through the festival’s website with the Filipino short dance film Insula by Mara Celine Javier and Jamela Isip hailed as the winner.
Physical events featuring film installations, photo and film poster exhibits, and in-theater film screenings will also be held at the UP Fine Arts Gallery, Tarzeer Pictures, and Sine Pop. Meanwhile, the grand closing party and launch of photographer Eddie Boy Escudero’s book, When We Danced, will be held at the PowerMac Center Spotlight. Moreover, workshops with Japanese choreographer Mitsuyo Uesugi and Dutch professional dancer and filmmaker Enrico Meijer will be available on digital format.
“What we try to advocate for in Fifth Wall Fest is movement outside or beyond the conventional performance space,” Madge shares. “We try to invite outsiders—by that I mean those who aren’t usually adept at dance—to see movement, or dance in the mundane. There’s movement in everything; no matter how poetic it sounds, it’s true.”
Want to join the movement? Check the festival’s Black Box for the full schedule and details about their events.