The Yamanakas At Home (working title) centers on an older couple living in a house in Japan. They eat, they sleep, they do laundry. A figure enters the house leaving mysterious rice circles that surround this man and woman. As much as they sweep up the rice it returns. They wonder if someone is haunting them or trying to protect them? Collaborating across the world, Tamar Rogoff (USA) and Mei Yamanaka (Japan) forge a partnership. Tamar envisions and directs. Mei directs, edits and dances the intruder/protector. Mei’s parents perform as the couple. For Rogoff this opportunity to mix truth and fiction, a cast of dancers and non-dancers, a kind of site work and merger of dance and film are what she loves. Tamar and Mei were scheduled to work together on Tamar’s piece, The Listeners for LaMama Moves in May 2020. When Covid struck rehearsals ended and Mei went back home to Japan. The Yamanakas at Home is their chance to get to know each other and work together despite all odds..
Wonder About Merri is a six minute short that looks at a surprising moment in Merri's life. Diagnosed with Dystonia in 2012, she pursued a number of medical treatments and a lot of alternative routes recommended by friends. Some of these methods were crazy, some not, but all ineffective. A long-time dance student of Tamar's, she had stopped going to classes in fear that she couldn't do anything. When she returned, she and Tamar found some shocking evidence of movement they didn't think was possible. Wonder About Merri is a hybrid, it’s not a documentary, nor a narrative, nor a dance film. In Merri's words, it is "a cross between a music video and Lourdes." Wonder About Merri was produced by Merri Milwe and Tamar Rogoff. The film stars Merri Milwe, and was directed by Tamar Rogoff. Editing and cinematography by Shachar Langlev. Sound design and original composition by Wilco Alkema. So far, the film has been shown at the Extraordinary Film Festival in Belgium, Dance on Camera, and the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival where it received the award for Most Daring Film.
About the Artists
Merri Milwe is a theater director, a teaching artist, and an artistic director who has served as dramaturg and director on original plays and solo works for the past 20 years. Her work as a director and dramaturg of Deb Margolin’s solo work is a long collaboration, and includes Just Give me One Half Hour With My Mother, redesigned for Zoom and presented by Dixon Place, Smith College, and North Hampton Community Arts Center; Good Morning Anita Hill for the All for One Theater Festival in NY, Penn State University, the KO Theater Festival, Amherst, Mass, and Index to Idioms at The Culture Project in NYC and the Puffin Cultural Forum, Teaneck NJ. Merri directed Margolin’s full-length multi-character play Critical Mass in Hebrew translation at the University of Tel Aviv Her extensive teaching includes a 2017 stint directing at NSKI College in Norway. Merri has run acting workshops for Creative Alternatives of NY and been a Teaching Artist for Playwrights Theater of New Jersey, and served as Artistic Director at Puffin Cultural Project 2011-2012. Wonder About Merri is her first film
Shachar Langlev is a director and cinematographer whose films have screened around the country including at the Sundance Film Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. He is the cinematographer of ALIVE INSIDE, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014, was short-listed for the Academy Awards, and released in theaters nation-wide. His narrative feature, A SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO LIVING AND DYING, premiered at the Tallgrass Film Festival in October 2018 where it won the Excellence in the Art of Filmmaking Award. Shachar directed and produced a series of high-profile documentary films featuring notable subjects such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Vice President Joe Biden (at the time), Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Noble Peace Prize recipient, Elie Wiesel. Shachar has also shot and directed numerous music videos (seen on MTV, VH1, BET) and commercials. He is an adjunct professor in the MFA, BFA and BA film departments at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York.
Mei Yamanaka is a dancer and choreographer from Japan. Mei moved to New York in 2008. Mei has worked and collaborated with artists including Tamar Rogoff, Catherine Galasso, Tiffany Mills, Mark Dendy, Jennifer Archibald, Christine Bonansea, Jody Oberfelder, among others. Mei's work has been seen at Fresh Tracks at New York Live Arts, Movement Research at Judson Church, Mix Festival at HERE, Food for Though at Danspace, and more. Mei was a "Fresh Tracks" residency artist at Dance Theater Workshop(now New York Live Arts) in 2010 - 2011. Mei was also residency artist at Chez Bushwick Artist In Residence in 2014 at Chez Bushwick. Right now Mei is staying, dancing and creating in Japan, her home. Because of covid-19. Mei dances as sending good energy to the universe. www.meiyamanaka.com
Tamar Rogoff is a New York filmmaker and choreographer whose large scale site works, films, and more traditional proscenium performances house her life-long experimental process. Her films have been screened at the Hamptons International Film Festival, the Sarasota Film Festival, Dance on Camera, and the Extraordinary Film Festival, among others. Rogoff was a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Fellow where she worked on Enter The Faun, which addressed protagonist Gregg Mozgala’s cerebral palsy through unorthodox body practices. The documentary won awards, and was broadcast on PBS America Reframed and in Europe. Rogoff’s short, Wonder About Merri, recently won “Most Daring Film” at Dare to Dance in Public Festival. As a movement coach, Rogoff worked with Claire Danes on HBO's Emmy-winning movie Temple Grandin. Rogoff’s live theater work has been seen at P.S.122, Danspace, La MaMa ETC, and Lincoln Center Out of Doors, and toured abroad. Rogoff is a Guggenheim Fellow, and has received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller, and the Fledgling Fund. At La Mama, she teaches her 38-year, ongoing laboratory where she explores Body Scripting, an approach she also uses to make choreography. Rogoff’s newly completed film, A Plague on All Our Houses, is a feature-length documentary that follows the lives of four dancers during the Covid-19 pandemic.