This is a blue-collar, inter-cultural love story between an Indian immigrant and a Caucasian widower set in a bakery during the nightshift. Raymond’s only true joy comes in the form of playing checkers with a fellow Indian worker, Shanti, during their break on the night-shift. Unaware of her developing feelings for him, he continues to just treat her as a friend and keeps his distance.
Upon realizing that her upcoming permanent departure back to her motherland is at hand, it forces him to face the reality that he has been living in denial of his new found feelings for her because of his past. By Jacintha Charles, USA
Jacintha Charles: Writer, Director, Actress
Having made her mark in Singapore’s film and television, she knew she wanted and could do more. Her time in San Francisco has taught her a lot about the film industry which is vastly different from Singapore’s. She got her first short film funded by the Singapore Film Commission in 2008 and from then on, she started to gain more confidence in her work. Her stories are mostly based on relationships of people. The joy, happiness, frustration, loss and love.
The Dance is her fourth short film and the second one to be funded by the Singapore Film Commission. She is very proud of the story especially with the use of unexplored but wonderful talents on and off camera and the gracious sponsors who believe so much in independent filmmaking in the San Francisco bay area. It has evolved as a film and for herself, as a writer/director. She hopes to continue making more films and is currently developing a feature to be shot here in San Francisco.
I am always inspired by music and lyrics. Always. The Dance came about when I was listening to the song “Somebody’s Crying” by Chris Isaak. I love the lyrics. It really is a beautiful, sad break up song and how it affected him/her. I was at a Starbucks in the mission area in San Francisco watching employees of a nearby bread factory on their way to work.I started thinking about their lives and the obstacles they face in life, family and love. I started to piece the song with the environment I was in, the people I saw, the bread I was smelling and voila, The Dance was born.
When I started to write The Dance, it was really a role I had written for myself as an Indian actress for my demo reel. I felt like there weren’t enough Indian actresses in lead roles in an English language film. But as I was finishing up the third act, the more convinced I was to direct it. It was a story of love and loss and life’s unexpected episodes being thrown at you. I also enjoyed researching and finding out more about the Indian culture and discovering the symbolisms of an Indian marriage. I wanted to make the film and maybe, as the writer, I was guarding my own project to make sure it was translated well and right on screen. I hope I managed to do that.
Although this story is set in the beautiful and gracious city of San Francisco, I hope it can be relatable to people everywhere.
“Casting with your mind vs casting with your gut” – When I first started writing this story, I had envisioned a much younger actress to play the role of Shanti. I thought it would raise the stakes higher with having a younger Indian woman fall in love with an older caucasian man, without the sugar daddy-ish/sleaze factor if you don’t mind me saying.
We sort of had an open audition. We brought in actresses we wanted to see and were open to seeing everybody else. One by one, the girls walked in, some unprepared, some too prepared and one in particular, who was so moved by the scene, she broke down crying even before she could speak. I took that as a compliment of course but felt so bad for her. Unfortunately, none of them caught my eye even having looked the part. Then walked in Nandini Kanhere. She was one of the last people I believe, to walk into the room. She looked way older and already, my heart kind of sank. She then mentioned that she read the scene and know it’s for a younger girl and that she is really in her forties. My heart sank in a little lower. But I am never one person to turn away anybody’s effort to even read and learn the lines that I wrote no matter how you looked or sounded. The fact that you made the effort to even take time off to turn up for my audition on a glorious Saturday afternoon, deserves a round of an applause.
After the small banter, she got into character and acted. My jaw fell. She read the role exactly how I envisioned the character would speak, feel, fidget, twitch, laugh, cock her head to the side, avert her eyes away and blush. Slowly, Nandini became my Shanti. I was being judgmental even before she spoke. How wrong I was! I thanked her for coming in, she thanked me for seeing her. She walked out of the room, I looked at both my producers and we felt each other’s gut. Yes, we did find our Shanti.
As a filmmaker, you hope you can set your story in the most natural setting. I was sure I was going to face a hard time finding a bread factory. I had wanted to ask the very bread factory I had in mind while writing the story, Panorama Baking Company, but thought it was going to be a definite no. Why would they open their establishment to a film crew during their operating hours? How wrong I was. Not only did they allow us to film during operational hours, they also happily appeared in the film. The manager, Robert Mannion is a gem. We were pinching ourselves with the good fortune of being able to film there. What a true blessing!