Dance department chair awarded Asia’s Best Independent Documentary Film

Film reel

Patrick Alcedo, chair of the Department of Dance at the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD), received Asia’s Best Independent Documentary Film award at this year’s All Asian International Independent Film Festival for his feature documentary titled, A Will To Dream.

A Will To Dream film poster

Through themes of dance and social justice, the film tells the story of a former ballet star in the Philippines. The protagonist, Luther Perez, surrenders his U.S. green card to teach dance to underprivileged children and youth in urban poor districts in Quezon City, Philippines in order to continue the heroic work started by his close friend, Eddie Elejar, and domestic partner, Tony Fabella, of empowering marginalized communities through ballet.

A Will to Dream touches on issues of teenage pregnancy, illegal drugs, the precarity of labour, and inconsistent governmental support in poverty alleviation. The film illustrates how dance, when partnered with altruistic teaching, has the power to possibly overcome socio-economic inequities and political challenges.

Patrick Alcedo

“Documentary filmmaking is deeply collaborative. This film would not have been possible if not for the trust that the cast gave to me and my small production team,” says Alcedo. “On behalf of cinematographers Alex Felipe and John Marie Soberano, my sincerest thanks to Luther, Dorothy ‘Dax’ Echipare, Jon-Jon Bides, Justin Bonganciso, Princess Verona and Rafael ‘Raprap’ Daton. Alec Bell’s incredible editing, the beautiful musical scoring of Peter Alcedo Jr., and the rare archival footage from Mark Gary and Denisa Reyes make this documentary truly special.”

Alcedo has created eight documentary films to date. They encompass the ways in which Filipinos “choreograph” their own cultural identities in his hometown Manila, Philippines, and Toronto where he resides and received post-secondary education and professional training in the field of dance.

Intersecting throughout his films is his lifelong passion for exploring issues surrounding folk Catholicism, race and ethnicity, class disparity, urban overdevelopment, and transnational and emotional labour. The desire for telling these stories is always partnered with dancing and moving bodies and the agency of the disparate individuals featured in his films.

A Will to Dream has garnered 17 other accolades, including an Official Selection from Los Angeles International Film Festival (LAIFF). According to festival director, Natasha Marburger, the LAIFF received more than 200 feature film submissions and 13 were selected for the festival screening. A Will To Dream also received Best Documentary Feature from Hong Kong Indie Film Festival, Best Director for Documentary Feature from Hollywood On The Tiber Film Awards and Official Selection from the San Diego Filipino Film Festival.

Patrick Alcedo at the Cannes International Independent Film Festival in Cannes

Earlier this year, Alcedo’s documentary, They Call Me Dax, earned the Silk Road Production Special Prize at the Cannes International Independent Film Festival in Cannes (CIFF). The film was also awarded Best Foreign Documentary at the San Francisco Short Film International Film and was announced in the Finalists category for the Canada Shorts Film Festival.

Alcedo’s documentary films have received support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Ontario’s Early Researcher Award, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Research-Creation Grant and the York Centre for Asian Research.