Leslie Shampaine’s 84-minute feature documentary CALL ME DANCER will have its world premiere at Santa Barbara International Film Festival (in juried competition for Best Documentary) on February 9th followed by the East Coast premiere as the Opening Night film at Dance on Camera Festival at Film at Lincoln Center, the longest-running dance film festival in the world, on February 10th. The film is looking for distribution in North America, the U.K., South Asia, and other regions of the world.International pop icon, singer and songwriter Jay Sean executive produced CALL ME DANCER because the story resonated with his own; as a British-Indian, Sean’s parents wanted him to pursue medicine rather than his dream of becoming a singer. In English and Hindi (with English subtitles), the film’s lead protagonist is Manish Chauhan, a young and talented street dancer from Mumbai who is struggling against his parents’ insistence that he follow a traditional path because they are counting on their only son to support them. When he secretly attends an inner-city dance school and accidentally walks into a ballet class, he meets Yehuda, a curmudgeonly 70-year-old Israeli teacher, and a hunger develops within him. Ambitious and passionate, Manish is determined to make it as a professional dancer, but the odds are stacked against him. This is a heart-warming and uplifting story of struggle and tenacity, family, culture, rebellion, and an unlikely friendship. Filmed in India, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States, the documentary features TWO original songs by Jay Sean, music by Bangladeshi American hip-hop artist Anik Khan, and a score by award-winning, British-Indian composer Nainita Desai.
“Dance films are typically created by looking into our world from the outside. They convey the difficulty of the profession, but what is often lost is the passion and inner joy that pushes dancers past the pain. I knew, as a dancer, I could offer an insider’s sensitivity and perspective,” said first-time director Shampaine, and former professional dancer from New York City. “I gathered a talented international team made up of Indian film professionals with insights into the culture and socio-economic reality of Mumbai. This is a story that I hope inspires people across the globe.”