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Second annual Portland festival shows 25 films from April 27 to 29

COURTESY PHOTO - One of two feature-length films at the Contact Dance Film Festival is 'Broken,' which tells of dancer Simone Orlando's life-changing injury.Jamey Hampton, the BodyVox dance company artistic director, says the selected films showing in the second annual Contact Dance Film Festival are put in the perfect sequence, like a fine meal where you "can't eat dessert first."

"Although, I'm going to have a great appetizer that'll blow minds," he says.

BodyVox is partnering again with Northwest Film Center to present the festival April 27-29, where there will be 23 short films and two feature-length films. The films are broken up into separate programs, with short films into two groups, called [email protected] (dance at 30 frames per second), which includes films curated by Mitchell Rose, and Dancing Over Borders, a collection curated by Hampton.

BodyVox has worked with Rose, formerly a New York-based choreographer, on 12 other films. Hampton is an Emmy-award winning dancer and choreographer who has performed at the Academy Awards.

Then there are the two features: "Mr. Gaga," a documentary that was filmed over a period of eight years and that features breathtaking dance sequences; and "Broken," a documentary by Portland filmmaker Lynne Spencer, which shines a light on a Ballet BC (Vancouver, British Columbia) dancer Simone Orlando, and how her life was changed after an injury.

The films will be shown at two different locations, with all of the short films at BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 N.W. 17th Ave., and feature films at Whitsell Auditorium, 1219 S.W. Park Ave.

COURTESY PHOTO - The other full-length feature of the festival is 'Mr. Gaga,' a documentary of dance filmed over eight years.BodyVox started the film festival last year after realizing there wasn't a "dance-only film fest in Portland." It was named after a film the company made with Rose, called "Contact."

Over previous years of making dance films, Hampton noticed there were two audiences coming to see movies: film enthusiasts interested in dance, and dance enthusiasts interested in film.

"They were two distinct groups, and that's why we partnered with the Northwest Film Center, because both of us wanted to reach out to new audiences," he says.

Hampton helped curate the festival over the past three months, and says it was no easy feat selecting dance films out of the "hundreds" that are made each year. They don't do it an open-call fashion, but rather seek them out themselves.

But why do they hold the festival?

"There are a ton of live dance performances in Portland," Hampton says. "We see dance around the world. But the art form of dance on film has evolved to the point that it's not documentary, it's an art form unto itself."

That is, people are making work for the camera and representing dance in an entirely different way.

"Today the melding of technology and in-camera techniques, slow motion, stop motion, animation, video effect generation, has taken that art form and also the conceptualization theatrically that bodies can't do in real time," Hampton says.

Dance on film is directly related to live dance, he says, but "a completely different family," and just as important for audiences to see alongside live performance.

"And it's an immediate global thing."

His portion of the show, Dancing Over Borders, features short films from eight different countries.

"It's sort of thrilling, you know? To go from Israel, to France, to United Kingdom, Buenos Aires to Portland," Hampton says.

He's particularly excited about the feature-length film "Mr. Gaga," which had a theatrical release. Those are usually more difficult for film festivals to screen, he says. It showed at Living Room Theatres three months ago.

"I think the filmmakers are doing it because it's a dance company (hosting) the film festival. So that shows community," Hampton says.

All tickets are $10 and on sale at www.bodyvox.com.

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