Documentary Screendance-making as a Practice of Kindness

Paula Guzzanti


In this essay I propose documentary screendance-making as an artistic practice motivated and led by the human need to connect with others through the affective force of kindness. Written from the perspective of the artist-researcher, I reflect on the mobilization of feelings of kindness as activated in the making of the short film The Broken Body (2020, Dir. Guzzanti & Devek). The film exposes the corporeality of Nicaraguan refugees living in Costa Rica since the violence that broke out in the country after the anti-government marches of April 2018. The visual narrative integrates the stories of five Nicaraguan refugees with my experience as dance facilitator working with displaced communities in Costa Rica. The storyline follows my emotional journey as dance facilitator as I try to understand the affects of violence and traces of trauma imprinted on the bodies of the workshop participants. Using the language of dance improvisation, poetry, gesture and speech, the film aims to humanise the image that host societies generally construct around the label of refugee, bringing forward what we all have in common: our corporeal experiences and the needs for wellbeing, safety, and settlement.


screendance; documentary; kindness; refugees; corporeality

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