Only When I Dance
Film Title (Original): Only When I Dance
Film Title (Spanish):
Film Title (In English): Only When I Dance
Country Of Origin:
Year Of Completion:
Running Time: 78mins
Rating: NR
Director: Beadie Finzi
Producers: Giorgia Lo Savio, Nikki Parrott
Co-Producers: Christina Daniels
Executive Producer: Jan Younghusband
Music: Stephen Hilton
Editor: Alan Levy, Felipe Lacerda
Cast: Irlan Santos Da Silva, Maria Da Penha Santos Da Silva, Irenildo Da Silva, Isabela Coracy Alves Nascimento Santos, Silvana Deuzarina Alves Santos, Teotonio Da Cruz Santos Filho, Moises Abrao Alves Nascimento Santos, Lucia Amelia Nascimento Brito, Mariza Estrella
Official Competition Tribeca Film Festival
Official Competition Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009
Official Selection SILVERDOCS
Nomination Rose D'Or

Beadie Finzi has worked in documentaries since 1994. Credits as a director include a three part documentary series Gifted on child prodigy Julian Bliss plus the dance series The Rough Guide To Choreography for Channel 4 Television.

In 2002, Beadie joined forces with fellow film maker Rupert Murray. They co-directed the curious Outsiders documentary on a cult lo-fi music scene in the US, followed by the drama/performance hybrid This Was My War based on the build up to the last Iraq War. In 2005 Beadie and Rupert made their first feature length documentary Unknown White Male about a young amnesiac rediscovering his life. It was selected for Sundance and made the Oscars Shortlist in 2006.

Beadie went on to direct the The Hunger Season a feature documentary on the food crisis gripping the planet. This film asks why, in spite of the Millennium Goals and a massive UN food aid programme, are we failing to solve the problem of hunger. Shot over three years in Swaziland, the USA and Italy, the film was commissioned by Channel 4, NHK Japan, SBS Australia and YLE Finland and is being distributed by Indiepix. Beadie has just completed shooting and directing on Only When I Dance with Tiger Lilly Films. A real life Billy Elliot set in the Favelas of Rio, the film charts the astonishing story of two young kids trying to dance their way out to a better life.

Beadie is one of the founding directors of the Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation, a grant giving body which invests in independent documentary filmmakers, and was also the festival director for the Oxford based boutique BRITDOC film festival.

Only When I Dance is the story of two teenagers trying to realise an extraordinary dream. One girl and one boy, both black and poor, are planning to dance their way out of one of the most violent favelas in Rio de Janerio.

Granted scholarships to train at the Centro de Dance Rio, one of the most rigorous and prestigious ballet schools in Brazil, Isabela and Irlan’s natural talent for ballet and it is about to transform their lives. Having passed the Brazilian selection panel in October 2007, Only When I Dance follows Isabela and Irlan as they prepare to compete at the prestigious international ballet competitions in Lausanne and New York where they hope to be spotted by the ballet company talent scouts. But is pure talent enough to overcome their circumstances and gain them a place at one of the best international dance companies, thus granting them access to the elite world of classical ballet?

Isabela’s family is desperately struggling to raise the money to be able to pay for the competition expenses and the flights to the US. They are falling into greater debt and the strain is showing. Irlan is lucky enough to have a mentor who will pay for his travel costs, but ironically his rigorous training and work schedule means that he can only attend school for a few hours a day and so may not be able to pass his exams and get the grades he will need to be able to join a foreign dance company.

This documentary follows them at a monumental turning point in their young lives. For Irlan at age 17 turning 18, he needs a break now or else the grinding poverty, drugs and violence of the favela will claim him back. The opportunities to dance ballet professionally are few and far between in Brazil and his best hope is to be spotted by a major international ballet company who could take him on and train him to the next level. Isabela’s situation is more urgent still: as a female ballet dancer, the competition is far fiercer, and the very colour of her skin means she will never be able to dance ballet in Brazil, where black ballerinas are unheard of. Her only hope is to win a place at a school in America or Europe where she will have a chance of a career, or to join the ranks of the favela’s unemployed and/or pregnant young girls.

Only When I Dance is Mad Hot Ballroom meets Billy Elliot, set in the favelas of Rio. A classic narrative of coming of age; it is about chasing a dream to dance the most perfect dance against all the odds of race and of circumstance. And of course the price you must pay for talent, for ambition and success.

III Dominican Republic Global Film Festival - 2009