This article is published through our Regional Reporter Program. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Now initiative.
Since its premiere at the Victoria Flamenco Festival in July 2021, Take My Hand, a 23-minute flamenco film, has become an official selection for independent film events in six countries.
The artists behind the film are Lina Kazan and Daniel Regnier of Saskatoon’s Flamenco Borealis, a dance and music company that Kazan describes as “authentic flamenco, but with … a hint of fusion.” So far, the film has been presented at the Toronto International Women Film Festival, Cannes International Cinema Festival, Madrid Indie Film Festival, LA Independent Women Film Awards, Hollywood on the Tiber Film Awards and the Golden Lemur International Film Festival. It won Best Music Video at the Hollywood on the Tiber Film Awards and received an honourable mention at the Toronto International Women Film Festival. A special screening of the work also took place in Saskatoon on Nov. 19, organized by Flamenco Borealis.
Take My Hand speaks to the need for human connection, a theme that people living during COVID-19 can certainly relate to. The film is not a narrative, but there is a non-verbal conversation and an evolution that happens.
“It goes from despair,” Kazan described, “to hope … and light and connection with each other.”
Kazan, a dancer and choreographer, and Regnier, a composer and multi-instrumentalist, each have a long history of training and performing in their respective mediums, but Take My Hand was their first time undertaking cinema. “I felt like I enhanced my artistic abilities,” remarked Kazan. The two worked on the original concept and artistic direction of the film together.
Though they have missed performing regularly for live audiences as a result of the pandemic, the film format allowed them to approach flamenco in new ways. Before starting Take My Hand, Regnier enrolled in a film scoring course. “I found that really exciting and really inspiring to … see how you could think about music in relation to images,” he said. The camera gave them the freedom to use multiple locations and to provide viewers with perspectives and details that they might miss in a live show, explained Kazan.
Take My Hand was supported by SK Arts and Canada Council for the Arts and produced by Versa Films. The vocals were provided by Celedonio Garrido, a Spanish singer who used to live in Saskatoon and is currently based in Europe.
Kazan felt particularly honoured by the film’s acceptance to the Madrid Indie Film Festival in Spain, a country where she has trained extensively in the art of flamenco. She said that they received high praise for the work. “People were so surprised to see that it was a Canadian production,” she said. “They thought it was made in Spain.”
The Saskatoon screening included live dance, a talk and a question-and-answer period. And it was Kazan and Regnier’s first time seeing their film on the big screen. “I’m so happy that we did this,” said Kazan. “It was such a beautiful experience to watch it with good people.”
“We have lots of other ideas that we want to put out there and explore,” Kazan replied when asked about their future in flamenco filmmaking. “For us, it felt like we just got started.”
Kazan and Regnier are partners not only in art but also in life and love. They met at a concert in Spain in 2004, when both of them were taking flamenco classes in the country. “You could say flamenco dance is what brought us together,” Regnier said. He later added, “I was really lucky to be able to work with Lina on this, that we’re able to, as a couple, do this artistic work together.”