Sofia Coppola is the American cinema’s most consciously bi-coastal auteur, having given us essential Los Angeles films like Somewhere and The Bling Ring before moving to New York in 2010 and bringing her work with her, setting A Very Murray Christmas and On the Rocks in the city that never sleeps. An unexpected new project from Coppola further cements her reputation as an assimilated-and-proud New Yorker.
She’s directed a twenty-six minute short for the New York City Ballet on the occasion of the Spring Gala fundraiser, showcasing the city’s preeminent dance company in all its glory. Coppola’s contribution will be available to stream until 20 May, beginning around the six-minute mark in the linked video.
In crisp digital-black-and-white, Coppola trains her lens on the dancers and instructors of the NYCB, basking on the pure majesty of bodies in motion. The high-contrast cinematography has a beautiful way of accentuating musculature, allowing us to see the power and precision of the techniques these performers have spent their lives perfecting.
As a title card spells out, these devotees of dance have been separated from the studio that they call home since March 2020 due to COVID-19 closures, and Coppola got the privilege of joining them as they make their first return to those hallowed grounds. Even if you’re not a New Yorker, there’s a potent emotional component to this promotional material, documenting the soul-deep spiritual connection we can have to the public spaces we’ve missed so badly.
While news of Coppola’s next feature effort has yet to surface, this scratches the same itch as the rest of her more recent work, offering us glimpses of cool cityscapes and urban interiors in artfully composed shots. It’s a solid minor work for a good cause, art for art’s sake – what’s more worthy of the people’s generosity than that?
Published 7 May 2021
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