Long appropriated and rarely acknowledged, African culture has had an outsized influence on the world of dance. Be it the South Carolina originating Charleston or the UK Mod scene’s Northern soul movement, follow the origins back far enough and you’ll discover that their roots (as with countless other dance styles) lie firmly in Africa. Filmmaker Edy Recendez’s Movement of Change celebrates this fact while offering up the hope that greater cultural understanding can help to heal society’s racial divisions. DN asked Guthrie to explain how this enlightening dance documentary came into being.

The idea started when my friend and long time collaborator Ken Easterly approached me with the idea of creating a film that would push the needle on the conversations felt around the world about social change and the BLM movement. The focus on justice, peace, and equality were important but more than that, we wanted to teach people about the importance of culture and learning about each other.

Ken has been a dancer for most of his life, so he reached out to his first mentor, Malaika Guthrie. Malaika agreed to talk to us and she not only gave us great answers for the topics we had in mind but basically gave us a dance and culture history lesson. After that, we had a clearer direction on where we wanted to go with the film.

We wanted to teach people about the importance of culture and learning about each other.

I put together a team of really talented people, we scheduled a couple of shoots – we shot with a RED Gemini, a BMPCC6k, and a URSA mini Pro G2 using Leica-R Lenses – with hip-hop, African, and ballet dancers and lastly, we attended the Juneteenth celebration. After our last shoot, I started editing the film, it wasn’t easy because there was so much good content but our biggest obstacle was trying to stitch up all these different dance/music styles into a 2-minute video and not make it feel cluttered. Thankfully, my Composer William Wright saved the day with an amazing score that made it come to life.

Overall it took us about two weeks from the first day of production to the day that we finished the film. I’m really proud of what we were able to achieve but most importantly I hope that people learn something from watching it and realize how important is it to learn about each other.

Movement for Change is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.

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