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All This Can Happen
The Swiss writer Robert Walser’s short tale “A Walk” was written in 1917. The young narrator sets out on a trip through the forest, during the course of which (via various digressions) he re-discovers his appetite for life. How should one think about dramatising such a story? You could engage a clever actor and, through art direction and costume design, set about trying to conjure up the atmosphere of the epoch. But Siobhan Davies and David Hinton have not taken this path. Instead, they have gone back to the original imagery of the period. All This Can Happen is pieced together from hundreds of snippets of silent film archival footage, edited together meticulously so as to seem to duplicate Walser’s seamless narrative.
One can only imagine how difficult this task must have been to carry off. Yet the directors contrive to make it look effortless. They are helped, no doubt, by Chu-Li Shewring’s elegant sound design and by the skill of actor John Heffernan’s beautifully paced voice-over.
Siobhan Davies is a renowned British choreographer, founder and artistic director of Siobhan Davies Dance, having created over 40 works to critical acclaim: twice winning an Olivier award, and others including Digital Dance Awards and a South Bank Show Award. She began dancing while a student at Art College and soon joined London Contemporary Dance Theatre, founding in 1982 the influential company Second Stride with Richard Alston and Ian Spink. Her curiosity has led her to extend her work through relationships with film, visual arts and crafts.
David Hinton is a celebrated British film director who has twice won BAFTA awards for his documentaries. His dance films have also won many awards, including a Prix Italia and an Emmy. He worked for ten years on the ITV arts programme The South Bank Show, where he made documentaries about artists of all kinds, including painter Francis Bacon, filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci, writer Alan Bennett and rock and roller Little Richard. He has also made films about Dostoyevsky, visual comedy and the Cultural Revolution in China. He has collaborated with several choreographers to create original dance works for the screen. He teaches dance film workshops all over the world.