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I SAW YOU WERE DANCING

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This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Sarah Pech

grade: 8

In I saw you were dancing, the act of observing plays the leading role. And so, we spectators immediately identify with young Margarita, perfectly at ease in the darkness of the night, just as we are in the darkness of a movie theatre. At the Vienna Shorts 2024.

After sunset

Night, it is known, holds many secrets within itself. Likewise, night itself is often imbued with strong symbolism. It is only at night, once one has finished one’s daily activities, that one can finally relax, one can finally feel free. And perhaps, in the meantime, there are those who still have some tasks to complete before they can rest. In the darkness of the night, lights inside houses can reveal great little details of people’s lives. 14-year-old Margarita (played by Alice Ona Crepaz-Fuentes), the protagonist of the short film I saw you were dancing, directed by Sarah Pech and presented as part of the Vienna Shorts 2024 programme, section ÖW – ‘Österreich Wettbewerb’, knows something about this.

Another day is drawing to a close. As the streetlights slowly come on, a voice over a loudspeaker informs people that the pool is about to close. A thunderstorm is on its way, but soon the weather is clear again. Young Margarita strolls through the narrow streets of a small village in Tyrol. The girl enjoys observing the lives of the inhabitants by simply spying on them through their open windows.

In I saw you were dancing, the illuminated windows contrast sharply with the darkness of the streets and, observed now from afar, now in detail, are almost reminiscent of so many small movie screens, each showing us, time after time, many new stories of normal everyday life. Margarita spends the evening alone, although many of her peers have organised a small outdoor party. Yet, the young woman seems at ease in this unusual solitude. The sounds of the countryside at night accompany her on this singular journey. Only briefly does one of her friends visit her while she is busy chopping wood. What if this aimless wandering is actually the expectation of something important?

Sarah Pech, for her part, with this precious little I saw you were dancing has given us an aesthetically sophisticated work that is extremely complex in its apparent simplicity. Images of great visual impact create a strong contrast between the lights of the houses and the darkness of the night, to the point of immediately making us think of Edward Hopper’s paintings. The act of observing plays the perfect co-starring role. And so, we viewers immediately identify with the young Margarita, perfectly at ease in the darkness of the night, just as we are in the darkness of a movie theatre.

A woman speaks excitedly on the phone. A few voices chat. And while a group of teenagers are having fun dancing in the street, an old woman is busy cleaning a table, while a man is about to drink another beer. So many images for so many stories about which we do not know much, but on which we can freely fantasise, creating many new ones in turn. Just like the young Margarita does. In I saw you were dancing, cinema and metacinema find a beautiful harmony. And Sarah Pech has found a winning solution to make that harmony incredibly alive and pulsating.

Original title: Ich hab dich tanzen sehn
Directed by: Sarah Pech
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2024
Running time: 19’
Genre: coming-of-age
Cast: Alice Ona Crepaz-Fuentes, Paul Metzler
Screenplay: Sarah Pech
Cinematography: Eva Kirsch, Paul Stümke
Produced by: Sarah Pech

Info: the page of I saw you were dancing on the website of the Vienna Shorts; the page of I saw you were dancing on the website of the Diagonale