Monday, March 7, 2016

The World's Only Ballet School for the Blind - Interview With Filmmaker And How You Can Help Finalize the Documentary

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If you want to know more about the project, check out their inspiring kickstarter campaign here:

Alexandre Peralta - Documentary Filmmaker "Looking at the Stars"

Alexandre Peralta is a Brazilian documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles. He moved to the US to study cinema in the University of Southern California. His thesis project, Looking at the Stars, is a documentary about the world’s only ballet school for the blind, located in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2015, the short version of the documentary received the gold medal in the 42nd Student Academy Awards, also known as the Student Oscars. Peralta is in the cusp of completing the feature-length version of Looking at the Stars

If you want to know more about the project, check out their inspiring kickstarter campaign here: They are almost out of time to reach their goal and not lose the funding they have been pledged so far. Scroll down for my interview with the filmmaker, Alexandre Peralta.

Q: What is the film about?

A: "Looking at the Stars" is a documentary about what it means, in equal parts, to be a woman, a blind person, and a ballet dancer. Shot in Sao Paulo, Brazil over a period of three years, the film focuses on Geyza, one of the school's first ballerinas and one of its instructors; and Thalia, one of Geyza’s students, a teenager who dreams of an independent future. 

Q: How did you learn about them & what inspired you to make  a film about these women? 

A: Everything started with curiosity.  I discovered the school by accident because I would walk by it on my way home from college. I became interested in knowing how they were able to teach something so technical and “visual” like ballet to visually impaired people. When I visited the ballet school for the first time, I was even more fascinated. It was a lively and inspiring place, I learned that ballet played an even bigger role in these girl’s lives. And I felt then and there that I needed to tell some of those stories.

Q: How do they teach ballet?

A: They use a very interesting method, developed by the founder of the school, Fernanda Bianchini, based on touch and sound. Since they don’t have the visual reference, and they cannot look at themselves or the instructors on the mirror, the students need to feel the teacher’s body in order to learn a new ballet ster. The dancers in the company learned everything that way, and they have danced in the last 20 years complex ballets like Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, and the Nutcracker. It’s very beautiful. 

Q: How does ballet help these women?

Ballet helps the girls in very inspiring ways. I believe they learn the value of perseverance, of following their dreams and of working hard for what they want. But there also physiological advantages because it improves their posture and the way the carry themselves in the world. But to see how ballet changes the lives of Geyza and Thalia, which is honestly magical and inspiring, you have to watch our film!

Q: What has been the reception of the film?

The feature film is based on the short, which won the Student Academy Award in 2015. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to complete the process of post production for the feature film. We are very excited because we feel that our film has the potential to inspire a lot of people all over the world, and we want to join forces with other groups, people that are passionate about disability rights, women empowerment, and specially ballet, because they understand dance’s ability to change lives. 

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