VIFF 2018: Le Grand Bal


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      This long but fascinating French doc vividly captures the sprawling Grand Ball that happens in the middle of the Allier countryside in France each year—and also the universal impulse to dance.

      Thousands of people of all ages converge on the farm to waltz, mazurka, and tarantella the night away in the eight big tents erected there, all serving up different folk-style music. No one sleeps more than a few hours a night, with workshops every day and social dancing to 3 in the morning. As Laetitia Carton takes her cameras not only onto the dancefloors, but inside the campgrounds, kitchens, and communal bathrooms, you can feel the exhaustion of the crowd build. But you’re also witness to the almost primal rite of humans connecting—what someone dubs the driving need to be held, and what the director calls, in one of her few poetic voice-overs, “listening to your body’s whispers”.