Trailer for Pontus Lidberg's Labyrinth Within (2010, Sweden, 28.5 min.)
Jury Prize for Best Picture, Dance on Camera Festival 2012, New York
Labyrinth Within--screened this week at Baryshnikov Arts Center--opens with a horizontally compressed view of a dizzying swirl of bare torsos belonging, provocatively, to the film's male performers. They are director/choreographer Pontus Lidberg, a remarkably lithe dancer, and the brooding Giovanni Bucchieri, who also played a similarly sensual role in Lidberg's award-winning film, The Rain (2006).
After your half-hour with Labyrinth Within, you might walk away uncertain of what you just saw. (Who's who? What's what? What's with that mask you see for a split second?) But asking this film to deliver straight answers is like asking a dream to get out of bed and make you bacon and eggs. That's not its job. Lidberg's project, co-written with dramaturg Niklas Holmgren, deals with mystery--change itself--as a permanent reality.
Labyrinth Within's layers slip through your awareness through multiple pathways--dramatic lighting and suspenseful camerawork; Bucchieri's brooding melancholy; rapturous, expressionistic duets between Lidberg and his female muse, the versatile NYCB principal Wendy Whelan, and the tension-building power of David Lang's original and arranged music. Place matters, too. The work--developed in residencies at BAC and Joyce SoHo but mostly filmed within the muted, under-furnished interior of a Stockholm apartment--turns upon evocative architectural as well as psychological space. In the discussion that followed BAC's screening, Lidberg, quite rightly, volunteered few revelations about his beautiful film but did dangle this tidbit: "I had a very eccentric father and grew up in an apartment with things like secret doors."
Upcoming at BAC Flicks: Carmen & Geoffrey (2005), a documentary on the lives and careers of Carmen de Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder by filmmakers Linda Atkinson and Nick Doob. The screening will be followed by a discussion with de Lavallade. Tuesday, April 24, 7pm. For further information and ticketing, click here.
Baryshnikov Arts Center
450 West 37th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues), Manhattan
(map and directions)