Part of BEYOND: Narrative filmmaking beyond the rules; reinventing conventional storytelling.
Toni is fascinated by the tight-knit dance team she sees practicing at the
Cincinnati community center where she boxes with her older brother. Entranced by their strength and confidence, 11-year-old Toni eventually joins the group, eagerly absorbing routines, mastering drills, and even piercing her own ears to fit in. But when a mysterious outbreak of fainting spells afflicts the team, Toni’s desire for acceptance becomes more complicated. A wholly original coming-of-age story told through vivid, visceral choreography, cinematography, and music.
Director’s Statement: Anna Rose Holmer
At its heart, The Fits is a cinematic meditation on movement, the body, adolescence, and identity as seen from the perspective of teenage girls. The film explores the particularly adolescent female phenomenon of mass hysteria, also known as mass psychogenic illness. The rapid spread of symptoms affects members of a cohesive group whereby physical ills have no corresponding organic cause. The Fits juxtaposes the precise, powerful, and intentional movements of drill with subconscious, spontaneous, and uncontrolled movements of collective hysterics. I directed The Fits as a dance film, considering the movements of the actors and camera to be choreography in each scene. From stand battles to obsessive workouts, from the way Toni carries her body down the hallway to the freedom in her brother’s boxing, we approached storytelling from the physical performance first.
A father buys his sweet, boisterous young daughter a pet hamster. When the hamster dies, they have a frank discussion about death, life, and humanity’s often-futile search for meaning in the universe. Apt, funny, and a bit graphic, the film conveys the truly terrifying experiences of everyday life.
Director’s Statement: Ryan Barger
I was thinking a lot about the different ways we learn about death as children. I vividly recall the death of my own hamster, and I know many people who have had similar experiences. I was inspired to create a film that conveyed the dark humor of that situation with an edge of real existential intensity.