Mad Hot Ballroom in SHOWTIME

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Mad Hot Ballroom. the Marilyn Agrelo and Amy Sewell’s feature film debut about a group of New York City kids learning to ballroom dance finds its way to Showtime. This is a great success for this beautiful documentary. The movie explores the intricacies of growing up and the sweet, simple power of art to change lives. With a tremendous amount of intelligence, humor, and self-confidence, these young urbanites swing and rhumba their way from novice students to fierce competitors. Along the way, and with the unwavering support of their various teachers, these dynamic kids learn as much about” From Los Angeles Film Festival site. growing up as they do about correct hand placement and the right time to shake a hip.
Here is an interview with one of the directors of the movie.
To check the show times for the Mad Hot Ballroom at Showtime please go to: http://www.sho.com/site/schedules/product_page.do?episodeid=127203&seriesid;=0

CWB: Please tell us about your movie Mad Hot Ballroom and its achievements.
Marilyn Agrelo: Well the reason I got involved with this film is because an old friend of mine named Amy Stool, who is a free lance writer, had written a story about one of the three schools in 2003 in a local community newspaper. She called me and said “ Please make a film with me about this.” I loved the story so much, and so I had the idea to not only follow this one school again but to follow three schools. These children were from very different economic and ethnic backgrounds. I wanted to explore the fact that New York City is such a diverse place, and virtually every sector of humanity is represented there. We followed three schools, one group of children is immigrants from the Dominican Republic, and they come from a very low-income area and a neighborhood that has a lot of crime. They were disadvantaged compared to another group we followed who come primarily from affluent families. We wanted to show contrast, and how all these kids from very different backgrounds would respond to the same experience, which was bring something as different as ballroom dancing, which is something from a another era, and how they would respond to it. I think we chose very well, this film really shows a story of achieving and pursuing your dreams, and going for it.

CWB: What is so interesting about Mad Hot Ballroom, is that it shows there are other exciting things to do for kids than just playing video games.
Marilyn: Absolutely, especially with something like this that requires interaction. The thing about the ballroom dance is that you are made to look your partner in the eye, and touch this person. It is all about respect, and it is all about socializing, especially with male and female together. I think in this age where you very correctly talk about video games, kids are becoming very isolated with technology, and a lot of kids don’t have two parents in the home and someone to talk about how men and women relate to each other, and how boys should be thinking about women. This kind of activity is at the other end of the spectrum; it is really all about that. It is very important.

CWB: What are your future projects?
Marilyn: Well I am looking at some narrative projects that are being presented to me. I also have a documentary project that I’ve been with for a long time. I was born in Cuba and this documentary about the part of my family that left and the part of my family that stayed and the two opposing points of view. I think immediately next up will be a narrative, but I am not sure which one yet.

CWB: What do you think about the state of independent filmmaking at this time? What do you think the obstacles are?
Marilyn: As an artist one of the hardest things to accomplish is to get and independent film made, and to finance and to get distribution. It is very difficult when you are out of the mainstream and out of the studio system to do these things, however I do think now it is probably the best time for independent films. It is also spectacularly a good time for documentaries. In the past 3 or 4 years, we have seen mass acceptance, and see people seeking out documentaries. Documentaries are playing in cinemas and they are even making money. The awareness of them, and the desire for knowledge, and for something that is beyond the comic book mentality that we are being fed by the studios, is growing and I am optimistic for the future.

CWB: Recently we encounter the news about the decline of the box office for the big movies such as Batman Begins and how they didn’t accomplish what they expected to do. Have people become fed-up with Hollywood made type of movies?
Marilyn: Yes. I mean there comes a point, I think and I am hopeful that this means that people are finally saying enough! I think if you give people intelligent material they will respond well to it. I agree with you, I am also happy to hear that these huge blockbusters are not doing what they expected, and little movies are actually doing better than expected, so what does that tell us? I can only hope that this will have some meaning to the studios that are making films.

CWB: What do you think Cinema Without Borders project, Episode Five?
Marilyn: I think it is a fantastic idea. I think to give five different directors with their own particular vision, and opinions, and to give them one little concept and have five different realizations of that concept is fascinating. I think it could have a fantastic and very interesting outcome. I would support such a project, and would be happy to be kept informed on how the development of it is going.

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