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Ends Sun, Sep 5


  • Dir. Jamila Wignot
  • USA
  • 2021
  • 95 min.
  • PG-13
  • DCP
  • Assistive Listening
  • Closed Captioning
  • Hearing Loop

Many know the name Alvin Ailey, but how many know the man? Ailey’s commitment to searching for truth in movement resulted in pioneering and enduring choreography that centers on African American experiences. Director Jamila Wignot’s resonant biography grants artful access to the elusive visionary who founded one of the world’s most renowned dance companies, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Where Ailey conveyed poetry through movement, Wignot crafts a visual poetry to evoke Ailey’s memories. Archival footage, layered with audio recordings, expounds on Ailey’s upbringing and establishes the language of his inspiration. Interviews with celebrated company dancers and distinguished choreographers give insight into Ailey’s process and legacy, while the current company of dancers work to bring a tribute to life. Wignot’s portrait is complex, capturing the talent and confidence of a man in the spotlight while also carving out space for Ailey’s vulnerability. Wignot moves between the interior and exterior, the inhale and exhale, to capture Ailey’s reverberating impact. (Synopsis from 2021 Sundance Film Festival)

“…A portrait that feels as poetic and nuanced as choreography itself…. Like Ailey’s dances, the documentary leaves you swimming in sensation.” —Gia Kourlas, New York Times

“A thorough and evocative documentary…. Since Ailey served as vital inspiration for many others across decades, the film itself also plays as a testament to the life-changing power of representation.” —Carlos Aguilar, The Wrap

"Wignot handles details of the legend’s tumultuous biography with great care, honoring his talents while acknowledging the toll they took on him. But perhaps the greatest gift of this tightly conceived and beautiful doc lies in its appreciation of the divinity of dance.” —Love Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

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