Documentary/Biography/Music – 2019 – USA – 93 Minutes – Magnolia Pictures – PG
CUNNINGHAM traces Merce’s artistic evolution over three decades of risk and discovery (1944-1972), from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers. The film weaves together Merce’s philosophies and stories, creating a visceral journey into his innovative work. A breathtaking explosion of dance, music, and never-before-seen archival material, CUNNINGHAM is a timely tribute to one of the world’s greatest modern dance artists.
Directed by Alla Kovgan
Kovgan’s ode to choreography master Merce Cunningham is sensational in every sense of the word. Renewing one’s appreciation of the many wonders of the human body and the space in which it fills and drifts, Cunningham celebrates all the things our joints and flexed muscles are capable of, as seen through the mind and poetic dances of an iconic creator. – Variety
What Kovgan’s utterly transporting film does, through a thoughtful and dynamic combination of curated material and new performances, is radiate the rapturous power of dance. – Hollywood Reporter
There’s been nothing quite like Alla Kovgan’s Cunningham, an exhilarating testament to documentaries as a boundless form of art. – Roger Ebert.com
The film is kinetic and elliptical, with clips from different eras juxtaposed in panels, moving back to a single frame of dancers’ feet, or artfully posed in instants of euphoria. This is a film that makes you want to absorb the language of dance or, at least, immerse yourself in more Merce, which makes this an exemplary introduction to a major twentieth century artist. – Original Cin
“[Dance] gives you nothing back,” says Cage. “No manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.” Kovgan’s film comes close to capturing that moment. – Boston Globe