Why Can't I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing?
Director: Campbell Walker
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 109 minsNew Zealand
Production co: Gordon Productions
Producers: Campbell Walker, Diane McAllen
Photography: Jeff Hurrell
Editor: Campbell Walker
Music: Loren Connors
This was especially the case with Dancing. This film was improvised to an almost ridiculous degree – not only did we not plan events. I wouldn’t even let the actors know what they were going to do. They would have to create a whole interaction between themselves with almost no help from me. — Campbell Walker
Campbell Walker’s closely observed account of a young woman dealing ambiguously with phone harassment from a former boyfriend, Why Can’t I Stop This Uncontrollable Dancing? is virtually a pas de deux for camera and actress. Nia Robyn, best known for her work in Walker’s previous feature Uncomfortable Comfortable, possesses an uncanny, active intelligence on screen. The play of thought and feeling on her alert, fine-featured face commands the camera in an entirely naturalistic fashion. Here she suggests inner resources to match and reward Walker’s relentless scrutiny. Watching, for example, as she listens, hungover, to a series of drunken messages left the night before, you might feel you share every sensation of her amazement and dismay.
Shot over five days in 1999, involving several more characters than made the final cut, the film was created in a no-budget environment so loose and improvisational, urban legend has it, that the actors at one stage locked out the film crew in order to continue their mutual exploration in private. It’s no surprise that the camera style verges on documentary. Walker, who has worked on other people’s films (several of them in the Festival) during the three years he’s taken to become an editor and locate the heart of fiction in the hours of improvised footage. — Bill Gosden