Top 10 RECOMMENDATIONS for the San Francisco Dance Film Festival 2014

By Tiit Helimets

November 1, 2014, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

I am a Principal Dancer in the San Francisco Ballet. For the past year I have worked as an intern with San Francisco Dance Film Festival (SFDFF) through the LEAP program at St. Mary’s College. After graduating from LEAP’s program I loved interning with the SFDFF so much that I am still working part-time for the festival. I was very fortunate to have been asked to participate on the film selection committee because of my ballet background. This allowed me to view all 270 entries this year. With such a large selection of film entries a top ten list was challenging for me to write, and I initially came up with a top 25 list. The films selected for the festival are all brilliant in their own way. I’m buzzing with excitement and cannot wait to hear what audiences think of the wide range of films that will be presented November 6-9 at the Brava Theater Center. Here are my picks for the top ten dance films in this year’s festival.

Ballerinas backstage.
Image by Sam Asaert

1. Ballet Spiral (USA)
Director: Sam Asaert
Well-shot with still capture, about backstage life during a ballet performance.




17. SFDFF_Globe Trot
Image by Mitchell Rose

2. Globe Trot (USA)
Director: Mitchell Rose
Choreographer: Bebe Miller
This is a fun experience that was made possible by having 54 filmmakers in 23 different countries team up.




Image by Ram Shweky
Image by Ram Shweky

3. Glove Story (Israel)
Director: Oren Shkedy
Choreographer: Dana Ruttenberg
After I finished watching Glove Story, I could not shut up about it. The intention and mystery about the dancers kept me captivated throughout. It truly is a piece of art. Dancers, music, sets, costumes, choreography, emotions and editing; everything comes together in this 37-minute film perfectly.



19. SFDFF_intrinsik_moral_evil
Image courtesy of artist.

4. Intrinsic Moral Evil (Netherlands)
Director: Harm Weistra
Choreographer: Fernando Dominguez Rincón
The director presents a very nice narrative, but I suggest you just watch it and make up your own story. Either way it works well, with clever slow motion capture that is interspersed with effective camera angles.


Image courtesy of Boudewijn Koole
Image courtesy of Boudewijn Koole

5. Off Ground (Netherlands)
Director: Boudewijn Koole
Choreographer: Jakop Ahlbom
Off Ground made me truly appreciate the power of simple choreography. Brilliant would be an understatement. Every aspect of this film is so complete that it is painfully satisfying to watch.



Joshua Fraiman
Image courtesy of Joshua Fraiman

6. Rules of the Game (USA)
Directors & Choreographers:
Jeff & Rick Kuperman
I find it remarkable how this choreography is able to mimic human conversation. One can literally follow the exchange of these physically gifted dancers. The whole film makes sense and is another great collaboration between the dancers, choreographers and the filmmakers.


A close up of a woman's waist to hamstring portion of her body, slow motion shot.
Image courtesy of artist.

7. Samba (USA)
Directors: Andrea Lerner, Rosane Chamecki
Choreographer: chameckilerner
Over two-and-a-half minutes the viewer is treated to a mesmerizing glimpse into the human body in slow motion. This silent movie will not be too silent when the audiences see it. I anticipate laughter and catcalls throughout the screening.



A woman and man lay in bed, she looks out the window and he sleeps in a fetal position.
Image courtesy of artist

8. Still (Netherlands)
Director & Choreographer: William Lu
This film captures the loneliness in an already committed relationship. The male figure’s expression, or lack of it ironically, is so captivating throughout the movie that anyone can relate to his emptiness.


Two women in their undergarments surround a working desk; one lays on top and another boxed under the desk.
Image courtesy of Peter Schiazza

9. The Art of Defining Me (UK)
Directors & Choreographers: Kamala Devam & Seeta Patel
Extremely entertaining and plays with the viewer’s mind till the very end. This film has great camera work, dialogue and full commitment from the dancers/actors.





A woman and a man in winter outfits dance in the streets.
Image by Maxime Boisvert

10. Vanishing Points (Canada)
Director: Marites Carino
Choreographer: Tentacle Tribe
Watching Vanishing Points just blew my mind. The control that these dancers have of their bodies is incredible. The whole movie is shot backwards, making it even more compelling for me to watch it over and over.



San Francisco Dance Film Festival will take place Nov 6-9 at the Brava Theater Center in SF. For a full festival schedule and more information about these and other films, visit

This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of In Dance.

Born in Viljandi, Estonia, Tiit Helimets trained at Tallinn Ballet School and began his career as a soloist with Estonian National Ballet. He was promoted to principal dancers six months later, making Estonian dance history when he danced the role of Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake at the age 18. He joined Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1999 and become a principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet in 2005.