An epic documentary portrait of one of the twentieth century’s most prominent choreographers.
Reconstructions of dances, archival footage, photographs, and letters. Off-camera excerpts of interviews from different periods and memoirs of friends and colleagues. Cunningham asks to be called a dancer. Not an avant-garde or experimental choreographer—just dancer, it’s quite enough for him. He tells the story of meeting John Cage, remembers his early years, and brings to life the shadows of Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Liechtenstein… Meagre descriptions are unable to explain the idiosyncrasy of this picture by Alla Kovgan, which took her seven years to shoot, eventually turning into a monument to the great dancer.
The film’s language somehow reminiscent of Win Wenders’s Pina, as Kovgan does her best, and does it excellently, to show how Cunningham worked with space. Live dance pieces were shot on New York streets, on the subway, in parks, and even on the roofs of houses. This biopic proves once again that documentaries can be as overwhelming as fiction films.
Director: Alla Kovgan
Germany, France, USA, 2019. 93 min. 16+