“Hot to Trot” documents world of same-sex ballroom dance
Taking six years to film, Gail Freedman’s documentary “Hot to Trot” is a labor of love, detailing the inside world of same-sex ballroom dancing.
It was later screened to packed movie houses in a number of festivals around the world, moving from its premiere in New York last August 24, to San Francisco, Boston, and New Zealand.
This coming September 14, it will be Los Angeles’ turn with First Run Features presenting it at Laemmle’s Music Hall.
All of the cast, including the filmmaker, will be present for the opening weekend of this screening.
Hot to Trot: The phenomenon
People all over the world are currently experiencing the resurgence of ballroom dancing as everyone from grandparents to students enjoy the social and competitive nature of this dance form.
A spin-off to this phenomenon is Ballroom Hoofing and it has become a widespread competitive event, to the point that it’s now considered a dance sport.
Together with the revival of this dance form is a sign that popular culture and gender politics are adapting to the current social environment.
This has brought about a surging popularity on same-sex couples competing in the previously strictly heterosexual ballroom dancing arena.
Hot to Trot: The film
The feature documentary film, “Hot to Trot,” is an immersive character study that goes inside the lives of a small international cast of four men and women over a four-year period.
Away from their extraordinary feats on the dance floor, the characters’ backstories of their struggles and conflicts in life frame their dancing and the discrimination they constantly face in the dance world.
The characters include the charismatic Ernesto Palma, a Costa Rican former meth head; and the gritty Emily Coles, a severe lifelong Type 1 diabetic who wears an insulin pump 24/7 even while performing.
There is also the dazzling Russian dance champ Nikolai Shpakov, who came out only a few years ago and longs for family acceptance; and Kieren Jameson, whose identity was forged in a strict New Zealand military environment.
The documentary follows them during the four years of filming, and shows how their relationships with others develop and deepen.
Hot to Trot: The creator
Meanwhile, Freedman, the director and producer of the documentary, is a one-time aspiring concert pianist who abandoned the stage for the screen many years ago,.
While making brief stops in academia, government and health care along the way, Freedman spent 20-plus years as an award-winning filmmaker.
She has produced, directed and written dozens of documentaries on a wide range of subjects through her company, Parrot Productions.
Included in her portfolio is the 9/11 Memorial, a prime time special for The History Channel, which aired on the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
Aside from independent projects, Freedman has done extensive work for PBS, network television, cable, syndication and the Internet, along with educational and non-profit films.
For more of the documentary, check out the trailer below: