A Moving Tribute

Director Asa Mader On the Art of Film Choreography

American-born filmmaker and artist Asa Mader studied cinema and new technologies at Brown and NYU. Since then he has honed his art in Paris, shooting both narrative and documentary films that have shown at both Cannes and the Venice Film Festival (featuring the likes of French actress and model Lou Doillon), as well as music videos for bands such as Coldplay. Here Mader casts his mind back to the cinematic scenes that have influenced his own thoughts on movement, and inspired the evolution of his new film short Time Doesn’t Stand Still, made in collaboration with choreographer Benjamin Millepied—an exclusive excerpt of which you can see here.

Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959)

There’s a scene in a train station that’s about five minutes long, without a single word of dialogue—it's pure choreography as [the characters] steal wallets and purses. Bresson has a very specific, spare cinematic language.

A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956)

Paul Schrader was probably most singly influenced by this film when writing Taxi Driver—in particular, the scenes where De Niro meticulously assembles the guns. Cinema is the art of telling story through image and sound. For Bresson, dialogue was a last resort. I like that school of thinking. 

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl T. Dreyer, 1928)

Probably one of the most modern films of all time, the movie was actually lost—the negative burned and destroyed—and it was over 50 years later that an original copy was found in the closet of an insane asylum. For me, nearly everything we consider modern in the language of cinema today was defined in this film all the way back in 1928. 

In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)

What I love in this film is that it's a love story, yet I believe there’s only two moments where the characters actually touch. They touch hands once in a taxi and once in an alleyway—sheer physical restraint, both on screen and off. The characters are like two magnets; walking by one another, barely brushing up against one another—the whole film being like a dance, really. 

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)

Beyond being a sheer masterpiece, Scorsese’s viewpoint on jealously is fantastic—and perhaps the best treatment ever of a man's obsession for a woman. The choice of black and white in the 80s was a very specific aesthetic choice, which went against every studio desire. It’s a boxing film, yet everything about it is graceful––incredibly, incredibly graceful. 

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