a Film by Linus von Stumberg

Linus von Stumberg
Linus von Stumberg Zürich, CH

Project Overview

Whim, a young dancer gets her first big role, in a piece by newcomer-choreographer Julius Schwanzenbach. But the piece turns out to be fatal in it's literary sense. SYNCOPE is a thriller on passion and success in contemporary stage dance. We want to show how dance lies in between art and extreme sport, and how far people go for success.

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I spent many nights in the dance hall choreographing and training. Thus, I admire many of my closest friends who dance as professional stage dancers in full-length pieces, or who choreograph them. The contemporary stage dance scene offers exciting material such as passion, career thoughts, and emotionally charged movement material.

With SYNCOPE I want to show what professional dancers and choreographers are capable of. Here, trust and passion collide. Behind a dance theater piece is a very high physical and mental performance. Dancers train for years to be able to only rehearse for such pieces. Choreographers are under creative pressure to create full-length pieces. SYNCOPE is meant to be a film about success and crossing borders. It creates an atmosphere that makes you think about what is behind a work of art. Focusing on two characters, I want to draw on my own experiences and show real problems in the dance world. Great ambitions, as well as the high expectations of a talent are central to me. I want to convey this through my main characters.

With a dancer in search of success we meet an up-and-coming choreographer who is under pressure to create and perform. He offers her an entry into a career, but the price is physical and mental abuse. The toxic single-mindedness, followed by flattering applause, silences everyone involved in the process. This again raises expectations for the choreographer's next work. With genre-typical elements of the psychothriller and horror film, I want the audience to feel the pressure under which both dancers and choreographers stand.

Whim takes part in the audition for the new dance piece SYNCOPE. Its young choreographer Julius Schwanzenbach is considered a genius since his last piece. For the last round he has a special task: While the dancers dance the choreography one last time, Julius wants to control the inhalation and exhalation of the dancers using a flicked beat. The group struggles through his beat, but the pauses between his snaps grow longer and longer, and the dance evolves into a draining struggle for air - until Julius's double clap ends the ordeal. That evening, when Whim is in her miserable apartment on the phone with her ex-boyfriend, he tries to persuade her to return. But Whim does not like to be manipulated. Suddenly she receives an e-mail: She and four other dancers are allowed to dance in SYNCOPE.

After a first meeting, the dancers begin an exhausting rehearsal marathon. Julius's strange approach of having them dance the piece time and time again demands everything from the dancers. Whim returns to the loneliness of her apartment every night with a battered body. On the evening before the premiere, the dancers and Julius toast to what they have achieved together, when suddenly everyone faints - except Julius. The dancers wake up completely disoriented on a glass platform. They all wear a metallic collar and notice a small puncture on their elbows. Through a cell phone, Julius welcomes them on stage. He explains he has injected them all with a nerve toxin that causes their muscles to spasm. To prevent the poison from paralyzing their lungs in 30 minutes, they must break it down through movement. Julius wants them to dance the piece. At any attempt to escape, he activates the neck restraints, which send a lethal electric shock. The curtain opens and the dancers stand in front of a sold-out audience.

Feeling the effect of the poison, they begin to dance. Their bodies bend and tense, creating a violent spectacle that is a sensational performance of suffering. As the piece comes to a close they have all survived the poisoning and are inundated with thunderous applause - the audience thought it was all pure performance. The applause seems to wipe the ordeal from the dancers' faces, and a smile begins to appear on Whim's face as well.
SYNCOPE will be shot in Zurich between August 15 and 21, 2022. Five days of shooting are planned at four different locations: dance halls at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), an apartment, an old ballet hall in the Villa Egli and a theater. The dancers and choreographers will rehearse together with the director before the shoot in Agust. The film crew consists exclusively of students who are working on this project as part of their bachelor's or master's degree. Most of the technical equipment is also provided by the ZHdK.

Nevertheless, such a project generates costs that go beyond the financial contribution of the school, and which we cannot bear on our own. We will use your donations for these purposes:

-rental costs for locations (Villa Egli and Volkshaus Zurich)
-In the Volkshaus we will have to build an extra stage design with a dance floor for the big dance scene.
-Transportation and catering for crew, cast and on several days also numerous extras.

It is also very important to us to compensate the dancers for their intensive work during the rehearsals before and during the shooting. We see it as an obligation, since we address exactly these circumstances in the dance industry.
Linus von Stumberg - Director
Linus was born in Göttingen, GER in 1996. After moving to Switzerland, he completed his high school diploma in Zurich. Independent work as a dancer and choreographer followed before he started his film studies at ZHdK in 2019. There, on student projects, he gained his first experience in post-production, as a screenwriter and on the directing staff. In 2021, he realized his first short film LION'S CAGE at ZHdK. The action-comedy saw the light of day at NIFFF and will be shown at other festivals. At the end of 2021 Linus wrote and directed the music film SUNSHADES for the band Catalyst. This has also been shown several times at festivals and won awards.

Gaëtan Nicolas - Camera
Gaëtan was born in 1994 in Sion, CH. He then completed a Bachelor in Human Geography and Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Neuchâtel before turning to camera work. 2019 Diploma of ERACOM (École romande d'arts et communication). Currently studying for his master's degree in film and cinematography at the ZHdK.

Levin Vieth - Production
Levin Vieth was born in 1994 in Egg near Zurich. After graduating from high school, he worked as an assistant director in the independent theater scene, including projects by screenwriter Katja Brunner and director Ivna Zic. In 2014, he began his bachelor's studies in German language and literature and film studies, which he completed in 2019. Subsequently, he completed a production internship at Dschoint Ventschr, where he subsequently continued to work on the project "The Miraculous Transformation of the Working Class into Foreigners". Along the way, he implemented several music videos in changing capacities. Since August 2020 he studies in the Master Film at the ZHdK with the specialization Creative Producing and has realized several projects as a production manager and producer in this context.

Further Crewmembers:
1. AD – Mina Tomic
2. AD – Lena Rheinländer
Editing – Carmen Walker
Composition – Mirjam Skal
Sound Design – Daniel Eaton
Production Design – Lina Doll & Angelika Federer
Stage – Manuel Hablützel
Choreography – Saraphina Beck
Linus von Stumberg
Linus von Stumberg
Zürich, CH

As a young filmmaker, I want to make exciting big films that stir up emotions and make you think.

With SYNCOPE I thematize the crossing of boundaries and exploitation in professional dance. Here I draw on my own experiences as a choreographer and dancer for many years and reach into the pot of the thriller genre with an element of exaggeration. This is also felt in the choreography for the film, which Sarafina Beck and I create together. I want to bring a celebration of art coupled with suspenseful passion to the screen. In doing so, the film casts a roof over the world of art, shows the pressure under which artists can perform and what can be behind fantastic works.


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