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Pina

More TIFF excitement – my friend Gretchen offered me a ticket to see “Pina,” the Wim Wenders’ film about the great German choreographer Pina Bausch. I was thrilled to go, as the film was on in France when I was last there and I’d tried, and failed, to see it. Apparently Bausch and Wenders had begun making the film when she died suddenly in 2009, one week after being diagnosed with cancer, at the age of 68. So he went ahead anyway.

It’s shot in 3D, and it’s absolutely extraordinary. Unfortunately I’ve never seen her troupe in the flesh, but the film gives you breathtaking close-ups of her most famous pieces, and of the stunning members of her troupe, an international crowd, each one more beautiful than the last – and quite a few much older than normal dancers are. She creates scenes of power and violence, tenderness and fear – one dance choreographed around a huge rock, where the dancers are eventually submerged in water; in another, her “Rite of Spring,” they dance on a stage covered in peat and grow filthy, and in another, they crash blindly into walls, tables and chairs. They hit themselves, fling themselves about – one dancer says Bausch told him, “Scare me,” and you can see how much her dancers give of themselves – almost an unbearable amount. But then she did too, you see in the bits that actually show her dancing, her intensity is mesmerizing. Apparently an American reviewer called her work “the pornography of pain,” sometimes almost too much. But always honest and moving.
I asked the man sitting next to me how many films he’d seen at the Festival. “When today’s over,” he said, “I’ll have seen fifty.” Fifty films! He dashed out the second this one was over. But how can he relish and review a good film if he’s rushing off to another? Ah, the issues of our society – quality versus quantity.
Before the film, I spent the morning walking on the Don Valley trail, in the quiet – the Parkway still closed till tomorrow morning, the whole neighbourhood suffused with silence. And after the film, I went back with Gretchen for another long walk, though we both felt we should be leaping about, dancer-style, instead of marching sedately in the sun. It’s a perfect day, hot and sunny and breezy – and it’s so beautiful down there, I didn’t want to leave. But even now, as I sit in the sun at home with a glass of wine, the constant background thrum of engines that we live with here is absent.
I ran into a friend down on the trail, he just setting off for a jog. When I mentioned why I was there, he looked up from the Blackberry he was checking and said, “Oh, the Parkways’s closed? Is that why it’s so quiet?” And I, quivering with joy. I guess that’s why he’s a successful businessman, and I’m a humble writer.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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