They Saw The Sun First
Death is one of those things we all have in common. After all, it’s inevitable, and most of us ponder it to greater or lesser degrees, especially in the face of a Pandemic wherein we are consciously doing everything we can to avoid it on a daily basis. Life goes on, but sometimes the struggle to find hope and meaning looms large, and the only thing one can do in the face of it is to, well… just dance.
Enter They Saw The Sun First, a lovely and quietly profound film by Stefan Hunt that I had the good fortune to happen upon while in search of something else — as is often the case. Featuring voiceover interviews with older and wiser New Yorkers about life, death, and everything in between, it offers a fresh POV on living, and the unstoppable passage of time — through the lens of dance and age. Shot in seemingly pre-Covid New York, familiar and ordinary locations are revealed by the camera with a technicolor like flair, along with some moments of magical realism.
While I’m not usually a fan of voiceover, here it works perfectly with the beautiful and dreamy cinematography by Cole Graham, and movement by Vanessa Marian providing content, context, and perspective all at once. The score by FKJ struck me at first as being overly sentimental, but by the end I realized how perfectly it fits and how lovely it really is.
With a running time of eight minutes and change, They Saw The Sun First is not a short short, but well worth the time. A small masterpiece it is intelligent, moving, extremely well done, and offers up a glimpse of hope and humanity in these challenging times.
Life is a dance, so let’s keep dancing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Founder/Director of Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival, Sarah Elgart is a Los Angeles based choreographer and director working under the auspice of Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow. Sarah creates original content for stage, screen, and site-specific venues. Her stage and site-works have been performed at alternative spaces including LAX Airport, The Skirball Center, Mark Taper Forum, Van Nuys Flyaway, The Bradbury Building, Jacob’s Pillow, INSITU Site-Specific Festival NY, and Loft Seven, where she created a rooftop work lit entirely by a hovering helicopter accompanied by Nels Cline (Wilco). Her work has been produced by venues including The Music Center, MASS MoCA, Dance Place, Los Angeles Theater Center, Mark Taper Forum and The International Women’s Theater Festival. In film Sarah has worked with noted directors including JJ Abrams, David Lynch, Catherine Hardwicke, and Anton Corbijn. Her own films include award-winning music videos, dance shorts, and an Emmy nominated PSA, and continue to be accepted into festivals internationally. In addition to teaching dance and film, Sarah writes a regular column, ScreenDance Diaries that focuses on the intersections of both genres internationally for online magazine Cultural Weekly. Sarah’s work has received support from organizations that include the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, California Arts Council and more. She is an alumna of the Sundance Institute’s Dance Film Lab, a Fellow of AFI’s Directing Women’s Workshop, and a director member of the DGA.
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