First Position

"Excellent"

First Position Review


Like the engaging hit documentary Spellbound, this dance competition film gets under the skin and holds us in its grip like a well-crafted thriller. As young dancers face incredible odds in a competition that will decide their future, we feel like nervous parents watching from the wings, cheering them on and agonising over every wobble. Yes, it's impossible to watch these kids' stories without being deeply moved.

Every year, more than 5,000 teens and pre-teens enter the Youth America Grand Prix, which brutally whittles competitors down to only 40 who will get jobs or scholarships with a dance company. Filmmaker Kargman follows six young dancers with distinctly different stories. Jules (10) and his sister Miko (11) are both gifted but have very different feelings about the rigours of competition. Aran (11) is in a military family that moves all over the world, which makes it tricky to keep his studies consistent. Joan (16) is a prodigy from Colombia whose mother has given up everything to help him pursue his dream of dancing in the Royal Ballet. Michaela (16) was orphaned in Sierra Leone's civil war, then adopted by American parents and now faces racial issues in the ballet world. And Rebecca (17) is under massive pressure from her parents.

To get this far, these kids are already the best in the world, naturally gifted athletes and artists who have more than pure talent: they have the drive to succeed at the top of their profession. So as the film follows them through their shockingly tough preparations, we can't help but fall in love with each one. We also meet their teachers, friends and parents, all of whom devote themselves to helping them succeed (Miko and Jules' dad comments that his children work longer and harder than he does). And all of them have big issues in their pasts that would stop anyone who was less ambitious from going any further.

Kargman assembles this into a driving narrative that builds emotional momentum on the way to the big final competition, which is simply breathtaking. The film is sometimes a bit nice and cute, avoiding these young people's darker or quirkier sides, but it's skilfully shot and edited to keep us tightly gripped. And the climactic scenes are thrilling as we see these gifted dancers overcome injuries and mistakes to blossom under enormous pressure.

Rich Cline



First Position

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th August 2012

Box Office USA: $0.9M

Distributed by: Sundance Selects

Production compaines: First Position Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 65 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bess Kargman

Producer: Bess Kargman

Starring: Aran Bell as Himself, Rebecca Houseknecht as Herself, Joan Sebastian Zamora as Himself, Miko Fogarty as Herself, Jules Jarvis Fogarty as Himself, Michaela DePrince as Herself, Gaya Bommer Yemini as Herself

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.