Napili for competition sa nakaraang 1st New York Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival noong nakaraang September 1 to 11, 2011 ang video documentary ng ’80s Pinay supermodel na si Bessie Badilla titled Dance of My Life.
Sa pamamagitan ng social networking site na Facebook, nakapanayam ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) si Bessie, pati na ang director ng Dance of My Life na si Lydia Benitez-Brown tungkol sa naging tagumpay ng video documentary sa New York.
Ayon kay Bessie, sold out ang opening screening nila noong nakaraang September 4. Noong closing night naman last September 9, kinailangan nang magkaroon ng second theater para ma-accommodate ang malaking crowd.
"Dance of My Life was an overwhelming experience for us. It was the top-grosser of the festival. Hindi namin iyon ini-expect talaga," banggit pa ni Bessie.
POIGNANT STORY. According to her website, www.queenbessie.com, ang nasabing video documentary bears "witness to Bessie Badilla’s poignant story, from her humble childhood in the Philippines, to a celebrated stint as a model for the House of Balenciaga in Paris, and her personal battles as a wife and mother in suburban Connecticut.
"Just when life seems to come crashing down on her, Bessie is invited to star in the Carnival in Sao Paulo, Brazil—an unprecedented feat for a non-Brazilian made more significant by the fact that she is a woman ’of a certain age.’
"Dance of My Life features never-before-seen Carnival footage as three Samba schools allow the crew backstage access to their closely-guarded preparations and introduce Bessie to the meaning of Carnival.
"Dance of My Life is simultaneously funny and poignant, a mesmerizing conflation of Carnival’s intoxicating life-force, and a woman’s determined journey to own herself.
"Dance of My Life is a 77-minute video documentary that was shot in Brazil, the Philippines, the U.S.A. and France by an international team headed by Lydia Benitez-Brown (Producer/Director/Writer) whose past credits include the award-winning Batibot (winner of the Prix Jeunesse and the NY Film and Video Festival), the Philippines’ best-loved children’s TV program.
"Dance of My Life features an unforgettable performance by Valquiria Ribeiro, one of Brazil’s top stage and TV personalities who eloquently explains the meaning of Carnival. Paolo Montalban, a well-known movie, stage and TV actor provided voice-over translations of the Brazilian interviews."
Ayon kay Ms. Brown, it all started nang maimbitahan ang former Pinay supermodel sa Sao Paulo, Brazil para sa taunang Carnival nila. Doon na raw nag-umpisa ang idea na gawin itong isang documentary.
"When Bessie was invited to Carnival, Jorge Ortoll and Ralph Peña of Ma-Yi Theater Company suggested it would make a good documentary.
"I serve on the Ma-Yi Board of Directors and we worked with Bessie on past Ma-Yi projects, so Ralph and Jorge recommended me to Bessie.
"I’ve known Bessie since her modelling days in Manila and we are neighbors in Connecticut, so when she asked me to help produce her Carnival documentary, I thought it would be an interesting project to tackle," ang sabi ng direktor.
"It was after we videotaped Bessie’s Carnival experiences that I had to try and find ways to blend Bessie’s stories with the Carnival footage.
"I wanted Carnival to serve as metaphor for Bessie’s life. All the hard work, the trials and tribulations and the positive energy so clearly evident in both Bessie and the Carnival just needed to be woven together as one story."
GLOWING REVIEWS. Wala raw silang malaking expectations na makapasok sa 1st New York Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival ang video documentary. Kumbaga, sinubukan lang nila kung magkakaroon ng interes ang mga tao sa kanilang docu. Kung walang tumangkilik, at least they tried and gave it their best shot.
Kaya laking gulat nila nang dagsain ng maraming manonood ang kanilang opening night at glowing reviews ang nakuha nila mula sa mga critics.
"Audiences who came to our three screenings in New York had very positive reactions to Dance of My Life. They said they came away with a better understanding of Carnival because we showed a lot of what goes behind-the-scenes, as well as the spectacle of the parade, which is what you usually see from other coverages of the Carnival," kuwento ni Lydia Benitez-Brown.
"They were touched by Bessie’s stories and amazed at her being able to dance for three Samba schools despite the fact that she is not Brazilian and is a ’woman of a certain age.’
"The adjectives most used by viewers were ’joyful’ and ’inspiring.’ They can see the other reviews in our website, www.queenbessie.com," ang sabi pa ni Ms. Brown.
LOOKING FORWARD. Ayon sa director, nakatanggap na raw ng ibang imbitasyon mula sa iba’t ibang international film festivals ang Dance of My Life pagkatapos ng successful run nito sa New York.
"We hope that the NY Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival premiere will just be the beginning of Dance of My Life’s run. We are hoping that we will be invited to exhibit or compete in other festivals.
"We have started to receive inquiries just on the strength of being in competition at the New York Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival. Some of the inquiries come from the Philippines, China and Europe.
"We would certainly like to show the documentary in the Philippines. So many Filipinos there helped us in the production and post-production."
Sinimulan na raw nila Bessie at Lydia with their team ang pag-respond sa mga inquiries at nagpadala na raw sila ng mga screeners.
"During our opening night in New York, a Swiss audio engineer who was in the audience liked it so much, he came to us after the show and offered us his expertise and the free use of his recording studio in New Jersey. We could re-do some audio segments that he felt could be improved. Bessie and I were there the next day.
"Dance of My Life is constantly evolving and so are we," pagtatapos pa ni Ms. Lydia Benitez-Brown.