Coming to theatres today, Friday, August 24:
HOT TO TROT
NewFest, Documentary Edge, LGBT fests in Boston, Atlanta, and London
A profile of same-sex competitive ballroom dancers.
Freedman’s film follows two pairs of dancers: Gay male dancer Ernesto, who begins with dancing partner Robbie, but must shift gears when the latter must contend with a health emergency, and takes on new teammate Nikolai; and lesbians Emily and Kieran. Notably, neither pairs are romantically linked, but working in tandem, they develop a unique intimacy. With same-sex dancers barred from mainstream ballroom competitions due to proscribed rules about men leading and women following, these Freds and Gingers instead show their moves on the niche same-sex circuit, represented here primarily through Oakland’s April Follies and the Gay Games. Unfortunately, the film actually doesn’t adequately permit the dancers to strut their stuff – despite a subject matter that lends itself to action and vibrancy, there’s surprisingly little dance here, and what is shown is filmed fairly perfunctorily. Instead of focusing on the competition, Freedman opts to go for portraiture – a not unreasonable decision, given the surfeit of mediocre competition docs made each year – but her protagonists just aren’t particularly compelling absent dance, making for a fairly forgettable run down of their coming out stories, health issues, and the like.