Review: Bring "Homesick" into Your Home for the Holidays


Movement and choreography by Danielle Agami

Directed and edited by Samantha Shay

Music by ZAAR

Presented by Source Material via streaming

December 20, 2020-January 10, 2021

Danielle Agami and Jordan Klitzke. Image courtesy Emily Owens PR
A work themed around the feeling of homesickness certainly seems appropriate for a time when many people's annual holiday gatherings will not take place. The short dance film Homesick made its world premiere on December 20th, followed by a Q&A, moderated by artist and CalArts Professor of Dance Cinema Francesca Penzani, with star and choreographer Danielle Agam, director Samantha Shay, cinematographer Victoria Sendra, and composer Sara Flindt, who makes experimental music as ZAAR. Homesick presents a cinematic reimagining of Agami's solo work Framed, which focuses on a peripatetic artist and the end of a relationship. The fifteen-minute Homesick and the accompanying Q&A will be viewable to ticket purchasers through January 10th.

The film, shot partly in Iceland, cuts among several spaces, including domestic spaces, an empty bar, a flower market, and a dirt road bisecting a sun-drenched field. It also intercuts between at least two time periods, which are marked by whether Agami's head is shaved or not, the former perhaps suggesting being shorn of past burdens. We see her character in moments of vulnerability just as in moments of strength (such as when she dons boxing gloves), as well as the complex interplay of these that characterizes relationships in the flower-market scenes with her significant other (Jordan Klitzke). (This setting also blurs the boundaries between public and private, acknowledging too how many vital relationship moments can play out in public spaces. The film elegantly twins Agami's character ending up alone among the shop's flowers with her walking the dirt road into the sun, waving, continuing on her own journey. A sort of coda sees her dancing alone in a public square accompanied by the Jim Reeves song "Welcome to my World."
Danielle Agami. Image courtesy Emily Owens PR
The rest of the film is soundtracked by ZAAR, whose vocals might put some audience members in mind of Björk. The occasional subtitled spoken voiceover, also by ZAAR, ponders feelings of homesickness, definitions of home, and their connections with love. (One thing that the film perhaps reminds us is that one can be homesick even when life is going as well as one could wish; on the other hand, in a different reading of the title, one can get sick of home.) Homesick is replete with lush lighting and dynamic camera movement. The choreography flows, stutters, and pauses for moments of stillness, weaving the film's moods with deft suggestiveness, Agami its magnetic center.

The extensive Q&A includes discussion of how the project came about and came to marry ZAAR's and Agami's work, the impact on Agami's art of being an immigrant to the United States and the emotional honesty with which she infuses it, the collaborative process and the film's relationship to the originating show, the interrelation between the voiceover text and the movement, and more, all of which enriches the experience and appreciation of the film. Brief but rich, Homesick will repay multiple viewings.

-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards


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