Let's talk Latin America

Film focus: Living Stars

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An amusing, endearing and joyous insight into Argentinians- and every one of us that has ever shamlessly danced in front of our webcams. Sophie Wall 

Living Stars, which premiered at Sundance 2014 and continues to feature at festivals, is the latest work by celebrated Argentinian directing duo Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat. The concept is deceptively simple: during 63 minutes, a series of Buenos Aires residents film themselves dancing to a song of their choice, accompanied by a caption of their name and profession. The results are unexpectedly hilarious and fascinating.

The fact that, for the most part, many of the people in Living Stars are not blessed with natural rhythm makes it all the more fantastic. Outside of Tango, Argentina is not well-known for its dancing prowess. Argentinian dance floors often bear resemblance to those in Europe (early naughties Europe at that- if Living Stars is anything to go by there is a national obsession with body-popping). Nonetheless, the dancers in Living Stars are loving every moment, totally committed and, from the looks of it, feeling like Pussycat Dolls.

The home-filmed clips also provide an insight into the effect of popular culture on the country’s youth, in particular young women. In a great number of clips we see pre-teen girls in a uniform of minuscule denim shorts coupled with skater trainers, awkwardly dipping-low and flicking their long hair to club anthems. As an audience member I felt similarly awkward watching young women grapple with sexuality as a means of self-expression.

Other clips, however, are exhilarating in their rebuttal of the gender binary; a young teenage boy really lets loose to Sia, unashamedly flaunting his gymnastic flexibility; a man in drag works it to Britney’s Toxic, his grandma rushing up to replace his wig when it falls to the floor mid-dance.

Mention has to made of the wonderfully DIY nature of the art direction. By the looks of it, participants were given the freedom to set the scene as they chose, and most take place at home with grandparents and dogs wandering into scenes. The background activity and onlookers add the real comedic flourish to Living Stars, as the haphazard nature beats anything that could have been written. Even the background scenes that are meticulously planned still endearingly belie their domestic setting (the family garage being illuminated by flashing hazard lights being a highlight.)

Many of us have been in these dancers shoes: that song comes on, the beat drops and we become the ‘living stars’ of our very own music videos. However, I know many people who truly seem to believe they can’t dance. The energy of Living Stars is infectious, and may prove an especially inspirational watch for these self-professed ‘non-dancers’.

Keep your eyes peeled for Living Stars at film festivals. Meanwhile check out the directors’ other works at  http://televisionabierta.com/index.php?l=ENG, which features other projects led by public interaction.