The graceful movements of 12-year-old Anthony Madu, a boy from Lagos, Nigeria, with a zeal for ballet, are inherently cinematic: arms stretched out to the sky, his body contorting like a determined feather fending off a gust of wind, just before he pirouettes with elegant agility that commands attention. At school, however, he faces constant bullying since his passion doesn’t fit his country’s traditional gender role expectations.
But thanks to the attention gained from a viral video of him performing, the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in London, England, offers Anthony a scholarship to study abroad with them for the next seven years. Inevitably, the life-changing opportunity comes with its fair share of thorny repercussions that will reshape his young identity. Co-directed by Matthew Ogens (Oscar-nominated for the 2021 documentary short “Audible”) and Nigerian filmmaker Joel ‘Kachi Benson, the inspirational doc “Madu” forgoes talking heads, opting for the observational approach to chronicle his first year in a new environment far away from home.
With unusual off-center framing, the camera of cinematographer Charlie Goodger tries to match the dynamic nimbleness and refinement of Anthony’s physicality when practicing. Other sequences show the boy dancing in gritty urban areas — an abandoned building, for example — to augment the contrast between his exquisitely precise twirls and the settings of his upbringing. This decisively…
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The post “Inspirational Doc on Young Nigerian Ballet Dancer” by Peter Debruge was published on 02/10/2024 by variety.com