Only When I Dance

Synopsis & Film Details

Critics have described the documentary Only When I Dance as the “Billy Elliot of Brazil.” The coming-of-age narrative follows two young teens, Isabela and Irlan, as they strive to realize the extraordinary dream of becoming ballet dancers. Both black and poor, the two live in one of the most violent favelas on the outskirts of Rio. Their ambition: to leave Brazil and join one of the great performance companies in North America. For each of them, dance is a way out, an escape; on stage, dance brings them to a state of ecstasy that is rarely found in their daily lives. Can they make it? In Portuguese, with English subtitles.

Directed by Beadie Finzi
Brazil/UK (2009)
78 minutes. No rating. DigiBeta.

Companion Short Film

    • Pobres Marcianos (Poor Martians)
    • Javier Diaz (Argentina)
    • 17 minutes
    • The short film Poor Martians verges on science fiction. It tells the story of a group of children from Hermana Sierra Villa, who see a strange light landing in a grove and then head for an adventure that will change their lives. Based on a true story, the movie screened in the village for the same children whom the story is about.