Director: Ron Mann

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


Ron Mann, whose past Sundance Festival successes have included Comic Book Confidential in 1989 and Imagine the Sound and Poetry in Motion in 1986, returns with his newest feature documentary, Twist. which has all the style and wit we've come to expect from him. This chronicle of an era isn't simply a history of a dance, but a remarkable look back at the mores, attitudes and changing lifestyles of the baby boom generation. And if it's nostalgic for some, it's pure, sweet discovery for everyone else. Did you think Chubby Checker invented the twist? Surprise; he didn't.

In rare archival footage and fast-paced interviews, Mann explores the genesis of this dance craze and the various phases of its growth, from Harlem to the Peppermint Lounge. Especially compelling are a series of interviews with couples from "Dick Clark's American Bandstand: the epitome of white-bread America, whose descriptions of the show and its celebrity reveal as much about an era as they do about people. The twist of fate that relegated Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, who wrote and originally performed the twist,. to obscurity, in contrast to the man who gained everlasting fame, exemplifies the often-exploitative nature of the music industry, and the way in which white society has appropriated black culture.

Mann's concerns go beyond reliving a dance craze. The controversy and outrage which greeted the transformation of America by the twist and presaged a revolution in every aspect of social and personal life are, embodied in the images which he offers us. Even if you think you've seen all of this before, there are constant surprises. The twist was a turning point in youth culture, and the range of reactions to this look back—whether you're nostalgically remembering or seeing these scenes for the first time, smiling in your seat or dancing in the aisles is prompted by the talent and insight of a very special filmmaker.

Wednesday Jan 27 9:00 pm
Prospector Square Theatre

Thursday Jan 28 4:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Saturday Jan 30 4:30 pm
Sundance Screening Room


— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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