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SILVER AWARD WINNER - Spotlight Document
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From poverty to principal.

A journey of one of Australia's best ballet dancers.



CHEN tells the story of Chinese Australian dancer Chengwu Guo. Who at the age of 10 was thrown into the strict and rigorous training world of the Beijing Dance Academy. Whilst enduring long periods of time away from his family and being subjected to harsh training methods, Chen was moulded into a highly talented and daring artist.  After winning a prestigious competition he migrated to Australia at the age of 16, quickly rising through the ranks to become one of Australia’s most highly acclaimed principal dancers. Now after meeting his partner Ako (also principal dancer of the Australian Ballet) and riding a continual wave of success he must face one of his greatest challenges yet; A career threatening injury that could force him to quit performing forever. Will this injury stop Chen, one of Australia’s best dancers, from reaching his physical and artistic peak?








Rebecca Gauci

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Rebecca has had a strong love for storytelling and filmmaking from a young age. Specialising in writing, directing and editing, she is currently developing her skills whilst studying the Bachelor of Film and Television at Swinburne University of Technology. Her passion for editing “Chen” stems from her 16 years of ballet training under Christine Bowman and Nicole Ryan. Discovering a love of ballet at the age of four she is trained in the Russian Vaganova method and RAD. Rebecca brings to the “Chen” edit room an appreciation for the craft and an understanding of the timing and pacing required for the documentary. She aspires for a natural fluidity in the edit with a sensitivity for music and motion.



Orit Novak 


This is Orit’s debut documentary.

She is a passionate story teller and filmmaker and has worked tirelessly on this project for the past two years. Throughout the process she has been inspired by films such as ‘Dancer’, ‘Polina’ and ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ and drew on these films frequently for inspiration. Apart from her love of documentary filmmaking she has also directed, edited and produced music videos and narrative short films. She enjoys all stages of the filmmaking process especially post production where she really feels the story comes together. Orit continues to seek out new and innovative ways of telling stories. With her unique passion for visual effects and keen eye for rhythm and editing she continues to improve her skills in all areas of filmmaking.


Lochie Hookway


Cinematographer Lochie Hookway is a skilled filmmaker who has shot an award-winning short film as well as various music videos, narrative films and documentaries. He enjoys both the technical and creative sides of filmmaking and hugely supported this project from its very inception; flying to different cities within the country to shoot interviews as well as assist in audio and sound recording. With his sensitivity to composition and framing he has brought to Chen a fresh and unique perspective. Capturing our subjects in different environments and shooting on the go rehearsals and performances. He is a passionate story teller and continues to direct and shoot various projects whether it be documentary, music video or narrative short film.  

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We spent 2 years following Chen. Filming his injury and recovery, as well as spending numerous hours sourcing archival footage; photos of Chen in his childhood, videos and photos of him dancing in China as well as footage from his performances over the years. This was no easy process and became a major part of telling his story.

We shot all of the interviews throughout the two years, some were even shot when we were well into the post production process. As Chen became injured we decided it would be even more important to interview ex dancers and experts around him who could shed light on his injury. We wanted this to be a main focal point of the documentary as injuries to dancers is not widely discussed and yet it is an inherent part of being a highly trained and skilled athlete. This was an incredible project to work on, our small yet passionate team feels highly privileged to have worked so closely with such a talented artist.

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