"The Narrative Potential of Flamenco": Interview with Director Ivy Yukiko Ishihara Oldford

Tensions run high in Ivy Yukiko Ishihara Oldford’s short film Duelo de Duendes. Two mothers battle it out on a train platform, as their young daughters look on, using only dance as a form of communication. Despite having no words, the rivalry is made clear between the two women. Set in Japan, with an ingenious use of sound, this film proves that the language of flamenco is universal. Paired with this week’s feature film Strictly Ballroom (Baz Lurhmann, 1992), Duelo de Duendes is the perfect companion to this week's dance-themed competition films.

CPFF: This year's Christie Pits Film Festival programme is titled "Eyes on the Prize", exploring themes of competition, perseverance, camaraderie and the drive to win. Do you have a favourite movie about competition, rivalry, or prize-vying?

IYIO: I don't consider myself a competitive person, and I'm not particularly drawn to rivalry stories, but if I had to choose a favourite film about prize-vying, it would be Mad Hot Ballroom. Watching those kids learn how to partner-dance with their (icky) classmates in the hopes of joining a large-scale competition is a lot of fun. But the final message is really about gaining positive self-esteem, respect for others, and a healthy sense of belonging. It's a great take-away

CPFF: Your film will screen alongside the cult favourite Strictly Ballroom and a second indie short that uses dance to demonstrate passion, dedication and perseverance. Are you a fan of Strictly Ballroom? What are your favourite dance movies?

IYIO: I adore Strictly Ballroom. And I always get a kick out of the mockumentary-style intro. As an awkward young girl trying to be taken seriously in the dance world, I really related to the main character Fran and her challenges. Other dance films I love are, of course, Dirty Dancing (the original, no substitutions), and Shall we Dance (the original, no substitutions). Anything with "fake" or simulated dancing makes me crazy, so I really respect and appreciate filmmakers who take the time to cast actors who can dance as well as they can act.

CPFF: Tell us a bit about where the idea for your short came from. What inspired the fantasy sequences?

IYIO: When I was living in Tokyo, I used to take taiko drumming lessons with my producer, Maho, and one of our classmates was Noriko, a professional flamenco dancer (Mother in Red). We went to see one of her performances, and I was emotionally devastated, but in a good way. I have always been interested in dance as a film language, and I've explored it a bit through ballet and tango. The narrative potential of flamenco had never occurred to me until that performance, and I knew I had to try something with it. So I approached Noriko with my idea and she recruited the other artists. The fantasy sequences were inspired by the passion I saw on stage, but the story itself was inspired by Tiger Moms, because I may or may not have been raised by one.

Duelo de Duendes screens alongside short film Lost in Motion II and Strictly Ballroom at Christie Pits Film Festival on July 2nd, 2017.