Obsessed with Light:The Genius of Loie Fuller

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: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Production


Loie Fuller was born in America and shot to stardom in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. She was not only a visionary performer, but also a technological trailblazer who simultaneously revolutionized several fields.


Obsessed with Light is a feature-length documentary film that tells the story of American performer Loïe Fuller (1862-1928), a pioneer of modern dance, stage lighting and design. Born in the Midwest, Fuller moved to Paris in 1892 to premiere her new dance at the Folies Bergère and became an overnight sensation. What she created was far more abstract and complex than anything that had been seen before. Her patented innovations in lighting techniques and stage design are the forerunners of some of today’s most elaborate multimedia productions. Ahead of her time in recognizing the value of her work, Fuller was a fierce defender of her ownership rights. She launched Isadora Duncan’s career, promoted Auguste Rodin’s sculpture in the U.S. and consulted Marie Curie to make her costumes glow. She inspired artists and filmmakers such as Picasso, Whistler, Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Alice Guy Blaché, the Lumière Brothers and more recently, William Kentridge, Taylor Swift and Alexander McQueen. 


Fuller never conformed to society’s expectations. Openly gay, she collaborated with her long-time lover, Gabrielle Bloch, on numerous projects including experimental films. Fuller took a degree of agency over her life and career that would be remarkable today and was almost unbelievable for her time. She was unapologetic about her appearance, sexuality, ambition, personal limitations and humble beginnings. Although largely forgotten, Fuller was one of the most visually daring individuals of the early 20th century. Obsessed with Light reveals how this trailblazer’s influence has extended into our own cultural landscape in astonishing and unexpected ways. In 1928, Fuller died of breast cancer and is buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Using Loïe Fuller’s writings, taken verbatim from primary source material and voiced by a well-known actress, Obsessed with Light will pull back the curtain on one of the most visually daring and innovative individuals of the 20th century, whose numerous contributions have largely been forgotten. We get a fascinating glimpse into her art, motivation, drive and challenges. Loïe’s obsession with light will be a key visual element of the film, providing an evocative underpinning for the narrative. Her “Serpentine Dance” became an iconic subject for the earliest filmmakers including George Méliès, Thomas Edison, Alice Guy-Blaché and the Lumiére Brothers and this remarkable, hand-tinted footage will be woven throughout the film, along with never-seen-before early footage of Paris. Contemporary verité footage of internationally known American dancer and choreographer Jody Sperling, the preeminent contemporary interpreter of Loïe’s dances, allows us an insider’s view into the technical complexity of Loïe’s work. Jody is the founder and Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance and has mounted performances all over the world, including on the ice in the Arctic. We will film Jody’s process of creating a new work from conception to performance and her journey will enable us to move fluidly between the past and the present. Loïe’s legacy of working with light lives on in the work of contemporary artists and performers. We will explore her influence on our current cultural scene with interviews with artists such as William Kentridge, Christo, Taylor Swift, James Turrell, Robert Wilson and Laurie Anderson. The late Alexander McQueen also used Loïe as inspiration for his haunting hologram of model Kate Moss.


Zeva Oelbaum - Director/Producer
recently co-directed "Letters From Baghdad," voiced and exec produced by Tilda Swinton

Sabine Krayenb├╝hl - Director/Producer/Editor

recently co-directed "Letters From Baghdad," voiced and exec produced by Tilda Swinton


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