Interview with Filmmaker Celia Grannum Perarnaud (UNDER GRACE)

UNDER GRACE played to rave reviews at the December 2021 DANCE Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

I had been working in the studio with these two wonderful dancers, Kelsey Byrne and Hannah Cardoza, creating movement without a definite project in mind. One day, I heard ‘Choros (Remastered 2020)’, by Ludovico Einaudi and I knew immediately that I needed to choreograph to it. I listened to the music over and over again, and started to receive images for the duet. At the same time, a performance opportunity arose, and as I was creating the duet for this showing, the characters of these two women became more clear, and instead of just seeing the dance choreography, I started to see images of the women in real life situations. They were intense and striking and I knew I had to capture them on film and weave them into a story. That story is ‘Under Grace’.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

I started to see the non-dance images at the same time as I was creating the pure dance duet, in January 2020. We finished editing ‘Under Grace’ by the beginning of April.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Beautiful Entanglement

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

I cannot really say that we were presented with any big obstacles. Every potentially challenging unfolding is an opportunity to flow, grow and expand. One fun moment was when Kelsey messaged me and said, ‘I know that we are not finished filming yet, but I have decided that I am going to cut my hair. I thought you might want to know, so you can adjust the schedule…’. I had to relax and let go and ask for more of the women’s story to be shown to me. How was I going to incorporate images of Kelsey with hair down her back with images of Kelsey with a bob into the same storyline?

Questions asked into the void are usually answered in the most delicious ways!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I really enjoyed watching the audience feedback video. I may even have shed a tear…It was very special to hear how the audience members had been moved by the film and how they had interpreted it and really had strong reactions to the dancers’ performances, as well as to the magic woven by the story and filmmaking.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I have been a choreographer ‘all of my life’, and have always ‘seen’ images which I have created on stage or in performance spaces, whether these were pure dance pieces, dance theater or dance installations. About four years ago, I started to see images which I could only capture on film, and I have dabbled in creating for film since then.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Hmmmm….I am not really a repeat viewer of films, except when forced to re-watch my kids’ favorite films with them!

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Since I am a newbie to film making and film festivals, I am enjoying the ride so far. I really appreciate the filmed audience feedback offered by this festival, and also relished the opportunity to interact with a live audience in a post-screening Q&A recently at a festival in Colorado. It is these exchanges with viewers that really offer a glimpse into how my work has affected other people and this is extremely inspiring.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

I am finding FilmFreeway to be really easy to navigate. The Experimental Dance and Music Film Festival platform site presented the information about the festival, submission criteria, etc in a clear, concise manner.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Depends on the season and weather, but right about now, as winter settles in, a good bet is my homemade veggie curry.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes! I am really excited right now as I have been seeing some images for a new film. It is being inspired by a solo I created this summer, which was set to Nina Simone’s ‘Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair’. This new film will be a piece exploring the shared collective trauma which exists in all of our physical and energy bodies, and how we can answer the call to journey into what we call the past, to other points in space and time, to rewrite timelines, consciously access healing, and then integrate in the now.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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