5 items from 2015
By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter
The 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday night with the North American premiere of Richard Raymond’s feature directorial debut Desert Dancer, a drama based on the true story of a young aspiring dancer in present-day Iran, where dance is banned. (Think Rosewater meets Footloose or Dirty Dancing, in the best sense.)
More than 2,000 moviegoers packed Santa Barbara’s historic Arlington Theatre for the screening, which was attended by Raymond and his stars Reece Ritchie (who looks and dances like a young Michael Jackson), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and Tom Cullen (Downton Abbey) — and was very well received.
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- Anjelica Oswald
Save The Last Dance was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up. It wasn't just because Julie Stiles looked awesome dancing in circles, but the combination of dance and a struggling environment was a powerful one*. And that's what Desert Dancer, a new film by Richard Raymond, seems to bring to the table: dance and struggle.
The setting is Iran, and the story follows Afshin Ghaffarian and some friends (one of which is Elaheh, played by Frieda Pinto) who risk their lives and form an underground dance company. This is a true story, set during the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, where many cultural freedoms, like dance, were threatened.
Through banned online videos, the group learn from timeless legends who cross all cultural divides, such as Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other, most importantly how to »
- Laura Frances
Set in Iran, this powerful and unbelievable true story follows the brave ambition of Afshin Ghaffarian. During the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, where many cultural freedoms were threatened, Afshin and some friends (including Elaheh played by Freida Pinto) risk their lives and form an underground dance company.
Through banned online videos, they learn from timeless legends who cross all cultural divides, such as Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other, most importantly how to embrace their passion for dance and for one another.
Desert Dancer opens in select theaters on April 10, 2015, and expands into theaters nationwide on April 17th, 2015.
Learn more about Desert Dancer on:
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- Michelle McCue
The Santa Barbara International Film Festival will kick off Opening Night with the U.S. Premiere of Relativity Studios’ Desert Dancer at the historic Arlington Theatre on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.Directed by Richard Raymond and starring Freida Pinto, Reece Ritchie, Nazanin Boniadi, Tom Cullen and Marmama Corlett, Desert Dancer tells the true story of a self-taught dancer pursuing a dream in a suppressed society.“Raymond has delivered an extremely timely and thought-provoking movie about love, truth and the freedom that comes from following your passions,” stated Roger Durling, Sbiff Executive Director. “What better way to kick off our 30th anniversary!” For the […] »
- April Neale
A self-acknowledged "showcase for Academy Award frontrunners," the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is often overlooked for the actual films that earn it festival status. An amalgamation of international discoveries and ’merica’s circuit highlights, the Sbiff curates a week of best-of-the-best to pair with their star-praising. The 2015 edition offers another expansive selection, bookended by two films that aren’t on any radars just yet. Sbiff will open with "Desert Dancer," producer Richard Raymond’s directorial debut. Starring Reece Ritchie and Frieda Pinto, the drama follows a group of friends who wave off the harsh political climate of Iran’s 2009 presidential election in favor of forming a dance team, picking up moves from Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev thanks to the magic of YouTube. The festival will close with "McFarland, USA," starring Kevin Costner and Maria Bello. Telling the 1987 true story of a Latino high school’s underdog cross-country team, »
- Matt Patches
5 items from 2015
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