Glance [Marko Pejović, Serbia, 2019]

Artistic expression continues to act as a vital mouthpiece for some of society’s most marginalised voices. Inclusivity champions, Let’s…, use their decade of first-hand experience working with people with disabilities in the arts to present Glance, a short dance film that speaks volumes on society’s continued ability to come together.

With four substantially varied pieces of dance choreography, Glance, utilizes opposing filmic techniques to present radically different story threads. Through an exploration of perspective, each performance offers a disparate viewpoint gained through a “glance”. The effect of such an action may be introspective, involve the appraisal of another, or transcend such set boxes of judgement altogether. Each movement is thematically distinct, yet when edited together and presented concurrently, they give a sense of culmination and of driving towards a whole.

Tied together wonderfully by Bojan Palikuća’s undulating score, the film’s pacing is never in doubt, always ticking over reassuringly, even as we flit between different dancers and locations. As a merging of artistic sensibilities, physical and filmic, Glance is superbly realised, a full repertoire of camera techniques bringing out the best in the innovative choreography.

An early emphasis on extreme close ups, gives even the most finite of bodily expressions our uninterrupted attention. Here, jerking extremities, characterful twitches in fingers and toes, are promoted to levels of extreme importance, taking centre stage (or frame) when they could otherwise have been unfairly missed in live performances. The choreography is commanding, forever conscious of its political force. As performer Natascha Schmelz moves in front of a mirror, a vertical finger falls across horizontally set lips in an unmistakable ‘shh’ motion, reminding us of the stifling of marginalised groups, and the potential of artistic expression as a platform for speaking out. Themes of self-identification, and perhaps even shame, are also observable in this extract, as sharp fingers explore the contours of her face, forever probing, forever questioning.

Each performance obtains its own exact tone, with substantial differences in physicality and the camera’s chosen method for capturing each carefully planned movement. Extreme close-ups, birds-eye view, split screen, and dramatic shifts in editing speed all combine skilfully to best fit the director’s vision. In one particularly thought-provoking section, wheelchair user Nataša Galić is lifted into the air and spun by her male co-performers. As she is rotated, the camera tracks her, zooming in on only her feet, an area of her body normally immobile, here the driving instigator in a devised movement that is both spiritually and physically uplifting.

With screenings and accolades across the film festival circuit, director Marko Pejović has overseen an invigorating fusing of mediums that is just as great an achievement for its dance characteristics, as it is for its filmic language. Politically charged, it reminds us of the importance of togetherness, and of the broadening of perspectives in a too often reactionary world.

'Glance' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.

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