Skip to main content
Tiff Logo
TIFF Bell Lightbox
416.599.TIFF / 1.888.599.8433
Location | Hours
Other Sections:

First Position

First Position

In the competitive world of classical dance, perfection is paramount. A runner-up for the Cadillac People’s Choice Documentary Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival®, First Position chronicles a year in the lives of six young dancers as they prepare for the Youth America Grand Prix, one of the world’s most prestigious youth dance competitions, where victory can mean scholarships, awards and job offers — while failure may put an end to these young artists’ dreams.

While each dancer is striving tirelessly for the same goal, their backgrounds and
motivations are fascinatingly diverse. Sixteen-year-old Joan has left his family in
Colombia in order to pursue his dream, and hopes to one day repay their support. Brother and sister Jules and Miko have varying levels of both talent and commitment to dance, a reality that has yet to dawn on their supportive mother. Nine-year-old Aran’s military family has made great sacrifices for their young son’s career, including a voluntary tour in Kuwait. Michaela, adopted at a young
age from war-ravaged Sierra Leone, seeks to combat stereotypes about black dancers. Rebecca is a gifted dancer who fears graduating into a depressed job market, which will mean an even scarcer chance of success.

Director Bess Kargman expertly weaves these various stories together as the Grand Prix looms ever nearer, and she brilliantly captures the electric excitement backstage as each dancer waits for their make-orbreak moment in the spotlight. A vivid, behind-the-scenes look into the ballet world and a moving depiction of the physical and emotional trials that these talented young people must undergo to realize their dreams, First Position is a compelling and ceaselessly engaging real-life drama in the vein of Spellbound and Mad Hot Ballroom.


Critical Notes

"When it’s over, you won’t remember so much about who won and who lost. Instead, what remains is the expression on a young dancer’s face, reflected in a mirror: showing the joy of being in love with what you do." —Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times


Film Information

Director: Bess Kargman
Featuring:: Aran Bell, Gaya Bommer Yemini and Michaela Deprince  
Year: 2011
Runtime: 90 
Country: USA
Language: English
Distributor: Mongrel Media
Ratings: ON NR / BC NR / AB NR / SK NR / MB NR / QC NR / Maritmes NR



DateCircuit CentreLocation

* Represents an approximate date. Please consult local listings.