Country of production: Canada
Cast and crew
Director : Simon C. Vaillancourt
Director of Photography : Simon C. Vaillancourt
Executive Production : Shraddha Danielle Blaney
Artistic Direction and Concept: Shraddha Danielle Blaney
Choreography : Shraddha Danielle Blaney
Costumes : Stéphanie Rodrigue
Music : Caroline Planté
Artists : Caroline Planté, Marcos Marin, Pooria Pournazeri
Sound Recording : Philippe Pelletier
Sound mixing : Philippe Pelletier
Editing : Daniel Audet
Colorization : Élie Veilleux
The creation of this film was made possible by the financial support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
Flamenco dancer Shraddha Danielle Blaney presents an intoxicating choreography inspired by the Persian poem The Conference of the Birds by Farîd-od-Dîn ‘Attâr. Through her movements, she tells the story of a phoenix before its transmutation by fire, as it revisits the places that were a source of joy and hope, but also of pain and suffering. It eventually tears itself from the flames to be reborn and finally takes flight toward luminous lands.
Artistic Director’s Biography (Shraddha Danielle Blaney)
Shraddha Danielle Blaney is a dancer and choreographer who specializes in flamenco and dervish dance. In 2022, she created the choreography for the film: Phénix | Al-Kimia. During the same year, she produced Convivencia, a show where flamenco and Arab Sufi music meet. Active on the professional dance scene for several years, she develops research activities to fashion a distinct language of her own. It is by letting her artistic abilities roam free that her creative potential emerges, and allows for her truth to be spoken through the merging of the two art forms.
Director’s Biography (Simon C. Vaillancourt)
Simon C. directed magazines, commercials and short films before moving to documentary, a field that he particularly likes. Over the years, he has directed many series, as well as the documentaries Voler sa vie, Stanley Vollant : de Compostelle à Kujjuaq, and La vie devant moi. His quest: to delve into the human soul, grasp the essence of people, shoot real life outdoors in bush conditions, face the unexpected, shoot polished images, be moved, move others, and create films that provoke reflection. Camera in hand, drone on his back, he also directed and produced four travel documentaries presented in theaters.
Cine-Review: Why did you choose the theme of the phoenix?
Shraddha Danielle: I am fascinated by the themes of death and rebirth. We are constantly experiencing events, large and small, that remind us that the only certainty that exists is that of the ever-changing world. We must continually accept the impermanence of existence. The short film Phénix | Al-Kimia explores the themes of transformation and transmutation: die before we die, according to a famous Sufi saying. The phoenix embodies the awareness of this reality that we all face in our lives.
CR: Please tell us about your artistic background.
Shraddha D.: Having been a flamenco dancer for many years, I discovered sama or dervish dance a decade ago. It was a real revelation to me, and I have been investigating this celestial meditation ever since. I also practice yoga, and this art of living nourishes my artistic path. The union of dance and yoga allows me to express my reality and to share it with a worldwide audience of film lovers!
As an artist, I have presented live performances with different dance and music ensembles. This form of dissemination is ephemeral; that’s the charm of dance! I appreciate the medium of film and its “eternal” nature because it allows for the discovery of the work even years after it was produced. Its distribution is worldwide and multiple audiences can discover the fruit of our work.
CR: Simon C, as a director/DOP, what attracted you to Phénix | Al Kimia project?
Simon C.: When Shraddha mentioned to me that she wanted to dance in the wilderness, I agreed on the spot. For the past few years, I have had the privilege of shooting all over Quebec, and I knew of some beautiful locations where I imagined her performing very well for the camera and drone. The idea was not to capture a choreography, but to create a cinematographic work inspired by the choreography, with natural landscapes in the background.
CR: Indeed, the locations are enchanting, and the lighting is superb!
SC: People sometimes think that the job of the director of photography is to adjust the lighting of a given scene, and that, therefore, there would be no real photo direction when shooting outdoors, except to choose the framing. However, when you’re out in the wilderness, you have to plan for the right time of day, the right angle to the sun, and ideally, have time to wait for the right weather. Since I mainly shoot documentaries with a small crew and I sometimes take on the drone and photo direction, I chose to go alone with Shraddha to have the flexibility to decide at the last minute when to shoot. It also gave us much more shooting time than if we had been with a full crew.
CR: What are your plans for the future?
Shraddha D.: I have begun the creation of a new short film that addresses the theme of duality, in which I begin a conversation with myself and the coexistence of opposites that animate me. I have a strong desire to explore the symbiosis between dance and the natural elements. Simon C. and I will explore this fertile avenue in the upcoming months! I will also continue to perform Convivencia in Canada with my musician friends.
Simon C.: In this next short film, I imagine a more advanced interaction between the dancer and the natural elements. In the future, I would love to experiment with virtual reality, whether it be for an art video or a documentary. In a few weeks I will be shooting a documentary series on the sources of energy to prioritize with climate change, and I have a documentary project in the Marquesas Islands planned for 2024. Shooting in natural environments fills me with joy and is a great source of inspiration for me!