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Friday, February 17, 2012

Jacob Krupnick Expands the Boundaries of Public Space With Dance in Girl Walk // All Day

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Three years ago, while working on a commissioned video installation, director Jacob Krupnick put out an open call for amateur dancers. Inspired by the range of styles exhibited in not-so-amateur dancer Anne Marsen's improvised routine -- which included Bollywood, breakdance, hip-hop, ballet, freestyle, and rave -- he set out to make a feature film for her to star in. The perfect soundtrack revealed itself in popular mash-up DJ Girl Talk's 2010 album All Day.

After a Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $25,000, Girl Walk // All Day is touring the country's theaters and film festivals, including opening night of SXSW. The film plays at two S.F. venues -- Public Works and the Roxie Theater -- as well as Oakland's Vessel Gallery in the next week.

Girl Walk // All Day follows three characters (the girl, the creep, and the gentleman, played by Marsen, John Doyle, and Dai Omiya, respectively) as they dance their way through New York City. Along the way they experience the inhospitable nature as well as the embrace of certain public spaces, eliciting rudeness and appreciation from strangers, and discover the uplifting power of dance. They tap atop Wall Street's Charging Bull. They get kicked out of Yankee Stadium. They enlist a group of women off the street to perform Beyonce's "Single Ladies." In doin so, the dancers reveal the scope of landscapes, personalities, and human responses in NYC. We caught up with director Jacob Krupnick in New York to find out more.

What was the experiment inherent in the film?

Anyone who lives in an American city is aware of how much surveillance is going on. There are cameras in stores, outside of buildings, on the subways. It becomes invisible after a bit but it's alarming how much recording you consent to by living here. In contrast to security cameras, our filmmaking has been incredibly transparent.

The film is a celebration of public space, joyfulness, and freedom of expression. As someone who grew up in New York and has spent time living in cities around the world, something I feel quite passionate about is how restrained and repressed life is in American cities. There are an incredible amount of rules. For a society for whom openness and freedom is so important, it's shocking you can't have a glass of wine in a park with friends as a person of age. The film tries to expand the boundaries of what public space is and what we're allowed to do with it.


Talk about the featured landmarks.

I moved to New York when I was 10. In 1992 the city was an entirely different place. For anyone who's lived here for more than several years, there's a sense of nostalgia for how things used to be. The city has become a more polished version of itself, and in ways less surprising and varied. The film became a time capsule of the city as it is in the summer of 2011. There are already five or six places we filmed that are no longer the same: murals that have become parking spaces, a park that has been uprooted.

It was striking how jaded New Yorkers are. People are dancing in their faces and they don't even blink.

It's easy to say, "Look at all these jaded New Yorkers. Everyone's stuck in their own world." But when you live in a city where there are an insane number of things pulling for your attention and tugging at your eyeballs, the reaction to withdraw into one's own world is something we all understand. Putting in earphones or reading your tablet on the subway is a coping mechanism for the strains of the city. Part of what I hope this film does is draw audiences' attention to their own behavior. Most would like to think they'd be the people to react, engage or join in. It's a healthy thing to say, "Would that be me who's ignoring this great performance that's exploding in front of my eyes?"


Why was the Kickstarter campaign was so successful?

It was clear in our video that the project was driven by passion, was involving the public, and was an expression of really good energy. That was helpful for setting the stage for what became almost an epidemic of generosity and good nature.

Girl Walk // All Day screens at Indie Fest on Sunday (Feb. 19) at Public Works and Thursday (Feb. 23) at the Roxie; and also on Monday (Feb. 20) at Vessel Gallery.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Chloe Roth


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