Only When I Dance a film by Beadie Finzi


Irlan Santos da Silva

Eighteen-year-old Irlan grew up in Rio de Janiero’s most violent favela, the Complexo do Alemão, where his family still live. He first discovered dance at the age of 12 when his cousin invited him to join a dance class and the teachers were quick to notice his talent; he won a scholarship to the Centro De Danca Rio and has never looked back.

The elite world of classical ballet is in stark contrast with his impoverished upbringing and Irlan often says he is caught between the two opposing worlds, that of the favela and of ballet. While he is dark-skinned, he isn’t

considered to be black like Isabela, and so doesn’t experience the same racial prejudice that she has to cope with.

In 2005 he won first place at New Yorkãs Grand Prix Ballet competition as well as Brazilãs prestigious Joinville competition, and although he appeared in media articles throughout Brazil, his teacher Mariza Estrella thought he wasn’t ready to take up any of the training places he was offered, and so held him back. The documentary follows what may well be his last opportunity to gain a place at an international ballet school.


Isabela Coracy

Seventeen-year-old Isabela started dancing at the age of 10 and is the only black girl at the Centro de Danca Rio, and also one of the most talented. She lives with her parents and brother in Cachambi, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Rio. All she has ever wanted to do is dance, but becoming a professional ballet dancer is unheard of around there.

The documentary sees Isabela

preparing for her first international dance competition — the New York Grand Prix that took place in April 2008. In order to realise her dreams of studying ballet abroad — the only option for a black ballerina in Brazil — she must win a prize in New York. Yet to get there she must negotiate the other girls’ jealousy of her talent, and also the wider difficulties and added difficulties posed by her gender and her race.


Mariza Estrella

Mariza Estrella is a highly respected figure in the Brazilian classical ballet community. She founded the Centro de Dança Rio in 1973, which is one of the only ballet schools in the country recognized by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. She is also the president of the National Dance Council, a branch of CID (Conseil Internacionale de Dance) in Paris, which is supported by UNESCO.

An ex-ballerina herself, Mariza danced professionally

for many years before making the transition to school director and teacher. She says that she has one great passion in life — to groom future ballet dancers, and see their talent unfold until they shine on stage. Although she supports her students, Mariza is also responsible for unconsciously perpetuating the social divisions that Irlan and Isabela are fighting to overcome. She gives voice to the undercurrent of racial prejudice that runs rife in Brazil, telling Isabela that “black girls don’t become prima ballerinas”.


Beadie Finzi — Director

Beadie Finzi has worked in documentaries since 1994. Credits as a director include a three part documentary series Gifted on child prodigy Julian Bliss plus the dance series The Rough Guide To Choreography for Channel 4 Television.

In 2002, Beadie joined forces with fellow film maker Rupert Murray. They co-directed the curious Outsiders documentary on a cult lo-fi music scene in the US, followed by the drama/performance hybrid This Was My War based on the build up to the last Iraq War. In 2005 Beadie and Rupert made their first feature length documentary Unknown White Male about a young amnesiac rediscovering his life. It was selected for Sundance and made the Oscars Shortlist in 2006.

Beadie went on to direct the The Hunger Season, an emotional essay on the food crisis gripping the planet. This film asks why, in spite of the Millennium Goals and a massive UN food aid programme, we are failing to solve the problem of hunger. Shot over three years in

Swaziland, the USA and Italy, the film was commissioned by Channel 4, NHK Japan, SBS Australia and YLE Finland and is being distributed by Indiepix.

Beadie has just completed shooting and directing on Only When I Dance with Tiger Lilly Films. A real life Billy Elliot set in the Favelas of Rio, the film charts the astonishing story of two young kids trying to dance their way out to a better life.

Beadie Finzi is also one of the founding directors of The Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, dedicated to reinventing funding and distribution models for British documentary filmmakers. As well as funding films such as BAFTA winner Chosen, Tribeca winner We Are Together, double Sundance winner Afghan Star and The End of the Line, due for release across 55 cinema screens on World Oceans Day, the Foundation brokers relationships between filmmakers and the NGO and brand sectors in the UK to create better, more effective films.


Giorgia lo Savio — Producer

Giorgia Lo Savio has over fourteen years experience in the film industry. She began at Film Four where for six years she was involved in different aspects of the film making process. During this time she developed a strong film distribution background working on international films and documentaries which were successful in cinemas, UK broadcasts and were showcased at many international and domestic festivals. Giorgia was then instrumental in the setting up the UK distribution company Verve Pictures which she left in 2004 to pursue her career as an independent producer.

She set up Jinga Pictures with a view to develop and produce groundbreaking feature documentaries and dramas with an international subject matter and appeal. ‘Only When I Dance’ is Giorgia’s first feature documentary which was commissioned by C4, Arte France and NPS and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2009.


Nikki Parrott — Producer

Nikki Parrott studied at the Royal College of Art where she did an MA in film production, she first worked in theatrical distribution for Metro Tartan, working with many important international Art House directors. She established the film and television production company Tigerlily Films in 2000 with Natasha Dack. It was one of the first companies to be awarded a slate deal with the UK Film Council and produces feature films, documentaries, drama and children’s programmes.

Tigerlily’s productions include the award-winning documentary feature, 37 Uses of a Dead Sheep (BBC Storyville and ARTE); BBC children’s drama Patrick’s Planet; feature drama Transit (MTV International); Footprints (BBC Storyville); the award-winning First Communion Day (BBC2), Channel 4 and A&E production Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother; and Dolce Vita Africana - about the life and work of renowned photographer Malick Sidibé (BBC Storyville/Arte).

Recent co-productions also include the Ben Hopkins’ feature film The Market, and documentary features Goth Cruise for the IFC, and Black Power Salute for the BBC.

They have quickly established themselves as a company that specialises in international co-productions especially on the feature documentary circuit. Because of this reputation they have been awarded first and now second slate development funding from the MEDIA programme to develop creative documentaries.

Currently in post-production is Xiaolu Guo’s feature film La Chinoise for FilmFour/UK Film Council, and they currently have several films in development including Richard Millward's Apples, Amit Gupta’s Jadoo, Tom Cotton’s Do Not Adjust Your Mind There is a Fault in Reality. Documentaries in development include Mapping Beirut, Monsters of Miami, Comrade Couture and The Witches.


Christina Daniels — Co-producer

Christina Daniels is a documentary filmmaker with many years experience working on documentaries both in the UK and in her native Brazil. She began her career at the BBC, with documentaries such as Pele: World Cup Hero, and later, Faultlines with John McCarthy, looking at the collision of politics and religion in Brazil. Most recently she has worked on Bruce Parry’s Amazon for the BBC.

An emerging director and self-shooter, her most recent documentaries include Model Prisoners, a feature-length film 

following the yearly beauty contest in one of Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious women’s prisons; Escape from Luanda, a feature length documentary following the fortunes of students at Angola’s first and only Music Academy; and Chris Ryan’s Elite Police, giving an exclusive insider’s look at Bope, Rio de Janeiro's toughest drug-traffic fighting military police squad, for Discovery International. She is currently working on an investigative documentary about drug trafficking in West Africa.


Nikki Weston — Line Producer

Nikki Weston is a freelance television producer specialising in arts documentary and performance programmes. After a degree in Communication & Media Studies at Coventry Polytechnic, she worked in post-production management, first in the independent sector and then at the BBC, before moving into production co-ordination. She relishes the challenges of filming on location — from gale force winds & sub-zero temperatures in Iceland in winter, to 

co-ordinating hundreds of singing extras on night shoots in a London park for an operatic re-creation of the mourning of Princess Diana.

Highlights have been The Cost of Living with physical theatre group DV8 (winner of the Rose D’Or and the Prix Italia), and the BritDocArt films Hackney Fandango directed by Tom Hunter and H2NY directed by Michael Landy, both experimental documentaries directed by artists.

Alan Levy — Editor

Alan Levy graduated from Nottingham University with a First in English. His first film as an editor was in 1995 when he collaborated with director Ben Hopkins on the short film ‘National Achievement Day’ which won many awards. They went on to edit feature films such as Simon Magus ‘Nine Lives of Thomas Katz’, and ‘The Market’ They also worked together on Ben's first documentary ‘Footprints’ and are currently working on his second, ‘Naples '43-'48’.

Alan also branched out into television comedy drama with the classic ‘Worst Week of My Life’ and ‘The Mighty Bush’. He has recently edited the television mini series ‘Lost in Austin’. He also writes feature films, the first of which, ID 3, will be produced by Flying Moon Productions next year. ‘Only When I Dance’ is Alan’s second feature documentary as an editor.

Felipe Lacerda — Editor

In his 15 years as an editor Felipe Lacerda has worked on over 20 features, including the Oscar nominated film Central Station. He also co-directed and edited the documentary Bus 174 with José Padilha, which was short-listed for an Oscar© and voted one of the ten best films of 2002 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek and The Village Voice. In 2007 Felipe released In Cuba, a series of 10 documentaries on the island, followed by In China in

2008. Besides working on distinguished feature films and documentaries, Felipe also has a solid career in advertising - having done over 200 films for virtually every major brand. He is fluent in five languages and has edited and doctor-edited films for Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Japan, Spain, UK and USA, and has also been a guest speaker in universities such as Cambridge, Leeds, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Hunter and Bard.

Stephen Hilton — Composer

Stephen Hilton has worked on the scores for over 20 Hollywood feature films including the Oceans 11, 12, and 13, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Moulin Rouge, Shaft, Hot Fuzz and Zoolander. He has also composed the scores for three films including recent release The Children. He frequently collaborates with renowned composer David Holmes under the name The Free Association and together they have worked on films such as Code 46 and more

recently Hunger and Cherry Bomb, as well as a variety of car adverts and TV programmes. As a composer, producer and programmer Stephen has worked with celebrated artists including Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Moloko, Isaac Hayes, The Pet Shop Boys, Scott Walker, Pulp, The Divine Comedy, Dirty Vegas, Martina Topley-Bird, Natasha Bedingfield, Primal Scream, The John Spencer Blues Explosion, Craig Armstrong, David Arnold, and many more.

Channel 4 in association with Arte France and NPS presents a Tigerlily Films Production in association with Jinga Production ‘Only When I Dance’ featuring Irlan Santos da Silva Isabela Coracy and Mariza Estrella editors Alan Levy and Felipe Lacerda music written and composed by Stephen Hilton music supervisors Matt Biffa and Alison Butters associate producer Paul Webster line producer Nikki Weston commissioning executives Critoph Jörg, Mairin ni Eithir and Annemiek van der Zanden executive producer Jan Younghusband co-producer Christina Daniels produced by Giorgia lo Savio and Nikki Parrott filmed and directed by Beadie Finzi

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