There’s probably no better way for a young filmmaker to announce his arrival than by winning an Academy Award. So USA, say hello to Alexandre Peralta, a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. Of course, in this case we’re referring more specifically to a Student Academy Award, but with or without the qualifier it’s an award given by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. So let’s call it an Academy Award.
After first receiving the nomination, the young MFA student’s short doc Olhando pras estrelas (Looking at the Stars) apparently wowed the Academy enough for them to include him amongst the award’s 15 annual winners. The prestigious statuette boasts past winners like Spike Lee, Robert Zemeckis, and Trey Parker; so it’s probably safe to assume this Brazilian native has a bright future ahead of him. So bright, in fact, that Peralta has already turned Looking at the Stars into a feature film that premiered this month at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
The doc brought Peralta back to his hometown of São Paulo, where he embedded with an unusual ballet academy to create this unique work. True to its name, the Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind has the distinction of being the only school in the world for visually impaired aspiring ballerinas, and Peralta’s mission was to share their story with those outside of Brazil.
With its inspirational tale of triumphing over adversity and striving for perfection despite physical challenges, Looking at the Stars has all the ingredients of a crowd pleaser firmly in place. But Peralta and his team take their project a step further and create an evocative audiovisual artifact that revels in the beauty of light, space, and corporal movement. Check out the film’s trailer for a peek at its poetic inclinations, with observational footage and interviews punctuated by visually breathtaking documents of pure dance.
Sure, the Academy doesn’t always get it right, but with the Looking at the Stars short-turned-feature it seems they’ve hit the nail on the head.