Heaven is a Place
Year of release: 2014
Original format: HD video
Running time: 16 minutes 30 seconds
Screening format: QuickTime, Blu-ray and DVD, available with or without English subtitles
Choreographer: Ruth Way, assisted by Claire Summers
Director: Kayla Parker
Executive producer: Roberta Mock
Screenplay: Roberta Mock, Kayla Parker, and Ruth Way
Cinematographer: Stuart Moore
Additional camera: Siobhán Mckeown
Production manager: Beth Richards
Editor: Siobhán Mckeown
Post production: Stuart Moore
Dubbing mixer: Paul Roberts
Music by Russell Frampton, performed by Russell Frampton and Paul Wilson, with Willy Entwistle; Vuevlo al Sur by Astor Piazzolla © copyright Lime Green Music Ltd by permission of Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd, an Imagem company
Production: Sundog Media
Made in partnership with Pride in Plymouth
Funded by: The Culture Programme of the European Union, and The Humanities, Music and Performing Arts Research Centre (HuMPA) at Plymouth University
Additional grant funding: The ICCI Support Fund, Innovation for the Creative and Cultural Industries with Plymouth University
Distribution and sales: Sundog Media sundogmedia@gmail.com

Heaven is a Place Trailer from Sundog Media on Vimeo.

Experimental dance film inspired by the writings of Jean Genet, made in Plymouth, south west Britain, with members of the LGBT community, whose personal narratives of longing and loss are told through a series of poetic encounters in the liminal, waterfront spaces of the city's border with the sea.

Made with members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans communities in Plymouth, whose personal narratives of longing and loss are told through a series of encounters in the liminal, waterfront spaces of the city's border with the sea: the decommissioned military installations of Devil's Point, the crumbling recreational structures of Plymouth Hoe, including the iconic Lion's Den - which was once the (in)famous nude men's bathing area - and the brutal beauty of the 1950s-built Bretonside bus station - demolished since the film was shot to make way for yet another 'leisure' development.

Inspired by the writing of Jean Genet, Heaven is a Place explores becoming, melancholy, and the erotics of place through the human geography of ports and portals. The film is a collaboration with Roberta Mock and Ruth Way that places the queer bodies of today in the places of Plymouth's past, contrasting the transient materiality of the human body in motion with the ephemeral nature of the elemental forces of wind and sea, in the histories of this place.

Production notes
Heaven is a Place is the title of the dance film created for the Plymouth strand of the Heaven on Earth? project, which took place from September 2013 to July 2014. Funded by a EU Culture Programme grant, the Heaven On Earth? project involves cultural organisations and artists from Greece, Spain, Turkey, France, and Italy, as well as Plymouth. Heaven on Earth? focuses on human relationships in dock/port cities, in order to promote trans-European understanding, diversity and research and skills development in the performing arts. The Heaven on Earth? project is co-organised by Roberta Mock, Kayla Parker and Ruth Way, and administered by World-Cef Inc. (Greece), with the principal organiser Odysseia theatre company in Greece, LaMov theatre company in Spain, and Symia dance company in Turkey. Associate artists and companies from France and Italy are also involved.

Heaven is a Place was made in 2014 with the LGBT community in Plymouth. The film reflects the growing confidence of our LGBT community, which has become more visible in recent years, and now presents an annual Pride in Plymouth event to celebrate queer identity and culture in a city on the far southwest coast of Britain.

To create the film, people who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender volunteered to participate in somatic dance workshops, sharing their life experiences as 'others' outside heteronormative society and developing movement sequences in places along the urban waterfront that held significant memories for them. The writings of Jean Genet formed an important context for the development process in these workshops. We filmed the LGBT performers' somatic movement encounters on location in these sites of memory in a documentary style, and commissioned original music from a composer who responded to the video of the LGBT community's performance of 'being in place'.

Heaven is a Place was shown on a large video screen in the city centre during the Pride in Plymouth festival during summer 2014, to accompany the LGBT procession walking through the inner city streets and main shopping area with their banners and flags.

Plymouth city centre is currently undergoing rapid regeneration. Since Heaven is a Place was completed in 2014, several of our filming locations - places of important LGBT memory - are threatened with destruction by property developers and some sites have already been demolished. Bretonside bus station has been closed and is being replaced by high-rise apartments, shops, restaurants and bars; the empty reservoir at Devil's Point will be turned into a carpark for a new luxury hotel at the Royal William Yard. Heaven is a Place celebrates 'other' identities in relation to urban sites of memory and perhaps records part of the process of Plymouth's LGBT community's reclamation of its histories.

Publication and comments
'Heaven is a Place: The politics and poetics of LGBT location in a community dance film' [chapter, with Roberta Mock and Ruth Way] in Sarita Malik, Caroline Chapain and Roberta Comunian (eds.) Community Filmmaking: Diversity, Practices and Places. London: Routledge. Publication date: 24 April 2017.

Plymouth LGBT Dance Film Exhibited in Venice Until 16 January 2017 (29 December 2016) The Arts Institute [website] University of Plymouth.

An LGBT experimental dance film inspired by the writings of Jean Genet. Directed by Kayla Parker and written by Kayla Parker, Roberta Mock and Ruth Way, this film captures dance in a unique and interesting way” Official Selection, Cornwall Film Festival 2014.

Colour My World Brighton Pride Exhibition Events Day featuring LGBTQ+ narratives by artists, film-makers and activists from the UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Curated by Gil Mualem Doron and Jenni Lewin-Turner, presented by Brighton and Hove Pride in collaboration with urbanflo creative and SEAS - Socially Engaged Art Salon at the BMECP Centre, Brighton (28 July 2018).

Contemporary Venice It’s LIQUID International Arts Show, curated by Luca Curci, director of It’s LIQUID Group, and organised in partnership with Valorizzazioni Culturali I Art Events; Palazzo Flangini, Cannaregio 252 - 30121 Venice, Italy. It's LIQUID is a communication platform for contemporary art, architecture and design. It's LIQUID is based on fluidity, motion, connection and accessibility (16 December 2016 to 15 January 2017)
Venice International Experimental Arts Festival: OUT OF BORDERS, international exhibition of architecture, photography, painting, video art, installation and performance art, curated by Luca Curci, director of It’s LIQUID Group, and Andrea Chinellato, director of Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi and Venice Art House Gallery; Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, Venice, Italy. OUT OF BORDERS is the experimental strand of the BORDERS Festival and aims to discover the way in which people and artists break the rules of everyday life and exceed the psychic and material borders, creating the starting point for the building of possible futures (14 December 2016 to 16 January 2017)

Trans(m)it International Film Festival, fea turing films that have been made through meaningful collaboration; daily programme presented online by Project Trans(m)it, with Heaven is a Place in the Day 5 ‘best of’ selection programme and screened live at The Iron Factory Philadelphia, PA, USA; also featured in the festival promotional film (27 May 2016)
Scena Tańca Studio, the Polish Institute for Music and Dance, The Studio Theatre (now STUDIO teatrgaleria), Warsaw, Poland; a programme of selected dance films from the Short Waves Festival (22 to 24 March 2016)
Short Waves Festival 2016 'Dances with Camera' programme, Słodownia, Stary Browar, Poznań, Poland: “Everybody has a definition of what dance is. Dance helps to overcome barriers, to express emotions freely, and opens you for other people. By dancing, everyone can become an artist. / DANCES WITH CAMERA is an effect of our search for new areas of creative activity in dance” (programme notes) (International Competition, 16 March 2016)

‘Practising research in performance: Heaven is a Place’ presented by Dr Roberta Mock, Katzman Lounge, Vanier Hal, University of Windsor, Canada (29 October 2015)
Plymouth Art Weekender Scott Building, Plymouth University (25 to 27 September 2015)
Kino der Kunst 2015 Highlights Neues Museum, Nürnberg, Germany (17 May 2015, Uhr Selbstfindungen programme)
KINO DER KUNST Selbstfindungen programme, Audimaxx of Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München, Germany (22 to 26 April 2015, International Competition)
Cornwall Film Festival, Falmouth (Official Selection, screening 17 April 2015; Cornwall Film Festival Audience Award Runner Up)
Marginal Perceptions: Queer Voices In and Beyond Conventional Disciplines International Queer Studies Conference; ‘Jean Genet and the Queer History of Plymouth’, presented by Alan Butler, Pride in Plymouth; University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall (7 March 2015)
Screening, with 10 minute papers from Roberta Mock and Ruth Way; followed by a chaired discussion of responses to the film and the issues raised. Jill Craigie Cinema, Plymouth University. A PEP (Performance, Experience, Presence) and Moving Image Arts (MIA) research event (29 January 2015, 6pm to 7.30pm)

Big Screen, Armada Way, Plymouth City Centre, for Plymouth Pride; the parade walked from the Jigsaw Garden through the City Centre and up to Plymouth Hoes, processing under the Big Screen en route as Heaven is a Place was being shown (Saturday 9 August 2014)
International Federation of Theatre Research World Congress (IFTR) Warwick University, Coventry, UK (27 July to 1 August 2014)
'The Jean Genie. Why Jean Genet Matters. In Plymouth (And Other Places). Right Now', an afternoon of conversations, Plymouth Arts Centre Cinema, Plymouth, UK (UK premiere, 29 June 2014 - read Kayla’s intro to the screening).
The Road to Heaven is Under Construction forum, Pireus, Athens, Greece (preview screening, 6 June 2014)
Images: Adam Whiting, Catarina Lau and Erik Koky at Firestone Bay, Devil’s Point (film still, Stuart Moore); solo aerial performance by Laura Murphy at The Shore Store, Cattewater, Plymouth (production still, Kayla Parker)