That's L.A. tap dancer Kenji Igus, on the right, watching as his father, Darrow, releases a fistful of sand. Darrow is readying the stage for a “sand dance,” a rare style of tap dancing in which the dancer scrapes the gritty grains to extract whooshing and shussing sounds with the feet, rather than the usual clicking and clacking.
The image is from the award-winning, 10-minute documentary film Sand, made by Cari Ann Shim Sham*. Sand, which beautifully captures the personal and artistic interactions of this father and son, will be screened as part of the International Documentary Association's DocuWeeks festival (which runs August 19-25 at Laemmle Sunset 5).
You might think there'd only be one Cari Ann Shim Sham*. But — no! — as Cari Ann was about to officially make Shim Sham her professional name, she found that another one existed. That's when she added the asterisk. Don't forget the asterisk.
A teacher, musician, dancer, choreographer, film editor, director of photography, experimental filmmaker and theater-artist, Cari Ann has had a packed summer. It began with a Sand screening at the Cannes Film Festival (in the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase). After that came Dance Camera West, for which she helps make movie selections.
Then she was finishing the editing on Two Seconds After Laughter, a collaborative new film made with her mentor, choreographer/director David Rousseve, and Indonesian-born dancer Sri Susilowati. Next, it was off to San Francisco for filming on a new project with fellow UCLA graduate Jia Wu. She also curated the one-night Dance Film Showcase at the Topanga Film Festival.
Cari Ann has been making short dance films for about 10 years. In the one pictured below, Are You For Real?, which went viral on the Internet, her undulating, naked body is magically covered with blue sticky notes.
Striking visual images are just one hallmark of her work, she said. “There is definitely something that unites them beyond just the fact that I made them…The way I edit, it's very musical. There's a strong use of color and then framing is big. Framing and movement. There's a strong sense of movement and the movement in my eye has been developed from a very young age. You put all those together and that's what is speaking in those pieces.”
Cari Ann said what she wants most is to have her work seen. So what's next?
“It's definitely time for me to make a feature. I don't know if I'll like it or not, but I might as well try it.”