Short Dance Film IT CRIES TOO LOUDLY Sheds Light on Anniversary of Beirut Explosion

It Cries Too Loudly is a short dance film conceived, directed and choreographed by Lebanese American, Dolly Sfeir.

By: Jul. 15, 2021
Short Dance Film IT CRIES TOO LOUDLY Sheds Light on Anniversary of Beirut Explosion

With the upcoming first anniversary of the Beirut explosion on August 4th, 2020, Abingdon Theatre Company is shedding light on the art that has been created as a result of this tragedy.

It Cries Too Loudly is a short dance film conceived, directed and choreographed by Lebanese American, Dolly Sfeir. Devastated and powerless as she watched the 2020 Beirut explosion and its aftermath from afar, she set about creating a work to express her delicate state of mind. It Cries Too Loudly explores the overlap between joy and tragedy in her tumultuous home country and the experience of being an emigre.

After wrapping the film in the winter of 2020, it was entered into several film festivals and thus far has had great success! The piece won Best Short Film at the Eastern European Film Festival, was a finalist at both the Prague International Film Awards and SHORT to the Point Festival and received an Honorable Mention at the London International Monthly Film Festival.

In addition, so far, the film has been selected for consideration at the San Francisco Dance Film Festival, Austin Dance Festival, Short Waves Festival, TANZAHOI International Dance Film Festival, The Cabriolet Film Festival, F-O-R-M (Festival of Recorded Movement) and Frame Rush. To celebrate, Abingdon plans to have a live screening of the film as part of their 29th Season programming in the spring of 2022 when the festival circuit has been completed.

Produced by Abingdon Theatre Company, Chad Austin and Pierre Marias, the film features performances from dancers Ian Spring, Omar Roman de Jesus and Annalee Traylor with cinematography and editing also by Marais.

Director, Dolly Sfeir stated, 'The making of It Cries too Loudly was a deeply formative experience. It was my directorial debut and allowed me to express through movement on film what I could not understand with words. I am irrevocably thankful for Chad, Pierre, and the magical performers for their generosity and trust in me, and for being an integral part of bringing this project to life. I am honored by the film's success in the film festival sphere and excited for what's to come.'

Cinematographer and editor Pierre Marais shared, 'Making It Cries Too Loudly with Dolly Sfeir was a hugely fulfilling artistic experience. Meeting with Dolly and discussing her vision; exploring chaos, family and love made me excited to depict these themes in a non-linear fashion. With the backdrop of beautiful upstate New York, we were able to create imagery that evokes feeling, allowing the viewer to project a narrative that the imagery provides, without dictating exactly what that story should be. This could only happen with the huge amount of trust given by executive producer, Chad Austin, who supported an immense amount of freedom in the visual storytelling. With only a few resources upstate, we relied heavily on natural light and the grandeur of the landscapes, lending itself as the perfect 'stage' to put this engaging piece of concert dance on film. We felt it imperative that the camera dance with the performers, to allow us to experience the movement with the characters versus observing it from afar. The result is a visceral, free and timeless piece of work that was as challenging to make as it was rewarding. I'm happy to see it being so well received by filmmakers all over the world, as you will be hard-pressed to find any short film like this, anywhere.'

Abingdon Theatre Company decided to partner with Sfier, who is a previous Artist in Residence at the company, to create this important art during a shift in their programming to more virtual and recorded events due to the Covid-19 pandemic. ATC are looking forward to continuing this new venture and producing more films in the future.

Abingdon Theatre Company was formed in 1993 by a group of theatre artists, eager for ongoing collaboration and greater control over their creative lives. Now, over 25 years later Abingdon has collaborated with over 200 playwrights including Tony Award Winner, V (Formerly Eve Ensler), Philip Dawkins, David Greenspan, Anne Bogart, James Lecesne, Michael Weller, Dominique Fishback, Charles Mee and many more. In recent years their annual galas have honored artists such as Bebe Neuwirth, Donna Murphy and Andrew Lippa. Recent productions include the New York Premieres of both Fruit Trilogy and The Gentleman Caller and the critically acclaimed Drama Desk Nominee, Get On Your Knees. The company provides a safe home where playwrights, directors and actors can collaborate within a supportive and nurturing environment. They search for stories about the human experience that reflect our social, political, historical and cultural diversity. They are acutely aware of the theatre's power to unite disparate population groups through stories about common human interests and strive to shed light on a variety of perspectives.

Choreographer and film director Dolly Sfeir grew up in Lebanon and moved with her family to the United States at the age of eighteen. The move changed her life and defined her creative process, driving her to explore the contrast between her homeland and adopted country through dance.

Hailed for her "stunning work" (Palm Springs Desert Sun), Sfeir probes the instability and social angst of contemporary life through a fantastical and cinematic lens. She was the 2019 Grand Prize recipient of the Palm Desert Choreography Competition at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Springs, Calif. She received a choreographic fellowship from Jacob's Pillow in 2019, and was an artist-in-residence for the Abingdon Theatre Company in New York. In that role, she is developing several short films and a full-length work set to the music of Duke Ellington. Additionally, she has been offered a residency with CUNY Dance Initiative to develop a full-length work, to be premiered post-pandemic.

Sfeir's two most recent works, "it will happen again tonight." and "hi are you like me," were commissioned by Mare Nostrum Elements in New York. These works have since been performed at the 2020 Battery Dance Festival, the Dance Gallery Festival at Alvin Ailey City Theater, and the Nuvu Festival. Her work has also been presented at the Diavolo Dance Theater in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of CSU Long Beach, where she was awarded a College of the Arts Scholarship and received a BFA in Dance.

Originally from Cape Town, South Africa, Pierre Marais is a cinematographer and editor based in New York City. Working mostly within the Broadway community, Pierre's work as a filmmaker for dance has been a cornerstone of his work. As a Broadway performer himself, Pierre defines his style through movement. Most recently, his short film, 'Anyone', directed by James Kinney, won best dance short at the New York Short Film Festival. He also serves as a director and cinematographer for the popular web series, 'For The Boys'. Later this year, Pierre's documentary, 'Ensemble' will be released, documenting the lives of 13 Broadway performers seen through the lens of the pandemic.

Chad Austin is the Artistic Director of Abingdon Theatre Company in New York City. Chad joined ATC in 2016 as the Associate Director and during that time helped to develop works such as the World Premiere of The Mother of Invention by Academy Award Winner, James Lecesne, Chess Match No. 5, directed by Ann Bogart and Eve Ensler's Fruit Trilogy. In 2018, Chad took over as Artistic Director of

Abingdon and now continues to develop and produce brave, new American work by emerging and established artists. In his time as Artistic Director, Chad created Abingdon's One Night Only series which gave a stage to Wade Dooley's, The Prompter, starring Academy Award winner Estelle Parsons. In this

series, Chad also shepherded a production of Steel Magnolias, featuring Tony Award Nominees, Brenda Braxon, Sandy Duncan and Nancy Opel. With Chad at the helm, Abingdon also co-produced the critically acclaimed off-Broadway run of Jacqueline Novak's, Get On Your Knees. In addition to all of his work at Abingdon, his highlights as a director and choreographer include, the Emmy award winning Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert on NBC, starring John Legend and Sara Bareilles; Love! Valour! Compassion! at Theatre 71; the World Premiere of STET by Kim Davies; And the World Goes 'Round, honoring Bebe Neuwirth; Alone in the U.S.A at SUNY New Paltz; Who Are You? At the New York Music Theatre Festival;

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel and Chess both at A.T.A NYC and Peter and the Wolf with the Hampton Ballet Theatre. Chad also choreographed the musical movies Walk the Walk, Landed, and Winning New York (official section 2016 young film maker series).

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