5th October 2017 8.50pm at ICA Cinema
6th October 2017 12.00pm at Vue West End
10th October 2017 3.50pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
It is a question raised all too often in modern society: should an individual have to sacrifice their career for love or vice versa? It may seem like a simple answer for many, but for some there is no sense of fulfilment in life without both. It seems unfair in 21st-century western culture that one half of a couple should have to give something up in order to achieve a prosperous and pleasurable future. It is this dilemma that is central to the documented life of American dancer Bobbi Jene Smith.
At the age of 21, Bobbi Jene left college to pursue her dance career in Israel, as a member of the prestigious Batsheva Dance Company. Now, nine years have passed and the documentary commences. Bobbi is aware that she is turning 30 and must seek to advance her own profession by moving on to a solo career, but this means leaving what she has known for the last decade behind, including her younger partner Or Schraiber. The film, aptly titled Bobbi Jene, follows the dancer as she decides to take yet another life changing decision that will either make or break her career. There is no doubt she has the talent, but can she apply her advanced knowledge and skills to her benefit without the support of who and what she knows?
The absorbing factor here is the sheer lack of music. Bobbie Jene’s choreographed performances that appear throughout the picture are mostly performed in ghostly silence, with the only audible sounds being the natural exertions the dancer makes vocally. This feature adds a chilling intensity to her movements, emphasising the importance of physicality in her dance, but also magnifying how passionate she is for the lifestyle.
Unfortunately, Elvira Lind’s documentary struggles to intensify this factor further with a clear direction or purpose. Yes, the running themes throughout are love and the loss of it in pursuit of dreams, but there isn’t any significant meaning shown. There is no doubt the subject is a phenomenally talented dancer, and may even be the future Ohad Naharin as suggested in the film, but it is hard to take much away from a viewing when all 95 minutes are screaming for justification. An unexplained and sudden ending also leaves the audience asking more questions as the credits role. Bobbi Jene’s dancing scenes are stunning and encapsulating, but more is needed from the other scenes, which just reiterate problems we all have and had experienced.
Bobbi Jene does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Bobbi Jene here: