“Enter the Faun” Leads to Unprecedented Discoveries

February 2nd, 2017 by vb

by Richard Propes, The Independent Critic






It was about five minutes into viewing Enter the Faun that I shed my first tear, a tear borne out of my own recognition of the vulnerability and unfolding in this extraordinary 68-minute documentary from co-directors Tamar Rogoff and Daisy Wright, a film that follows the unlikely collaboration between Rogoff, a veteran choreographer, and Gregg Mozgala, a young actor with cerebral palsy who together deliver astonishing proof that each and every body is capable of miraculous transformation.

The truth is that I shed many tears throughout Enter the Faun. They were tears of joy and tears of sorrow. They were tears of familiarity and tears of embarrassment at the recognition I had spent years pushing my own body away from my soul. They were tears of discovery and curiosity and wonder and ache and absolute awe.

Actress Claire Danes described Enter the Faun better, perhaps, than I possibly could when she called it a “wonderfully unlikely buddy movie,” a movie about a joy-filled, intimate and obsessive joureny toward opening that, because of that absolute surrender to the journey, challenges the  boundaries of medicine and art and the stereotypes that we’ve all too easily, myself included, associated with disability.

Watching Mozgala is a revelation. I must admit that that as I began watching him, I scoffed. A classically handsome man who initially struck me as what we gimp pros like to call “high functioning,”

While Mozgala is, indeed, classically handsome and in many ways does qualify as what one would consider to be higher functioning as there is a wide range of potential challenges associated with cerebral palsy, the truth is I had allowed my own life biases to immediately create a judgment, an inaccurate one.

Then, I became swept away.

I became swept away by Mozgala’s intimate surrender to possibility, to impossibility, to disability, to ability and to everything that this journey with Rogoff could possibly mean.

I became swept away by Rogoff’s seemingly infinite curiosity and her willingness to explore and learn and be transparent and imagine the possibility that exists beyond science’s knowledge.

I found myself learning from Mozgala, a man whose cerebral palsy may have seemed less pronounced yet whose cerebral palsy had in many ways defined his daily existence and self-perception and self-image and coping skills and relationships. I identified with his learning how to fall so as to turn it into a thing of laughter rather than humiliation. I identified with his former willingness to accept the limitations that had been imposed upon him by those who “knew” but didn’t really know.

I thought he and I were different, but there it was – a bridge, a connector, a common ground.

As an adult with spina bifida and a double amputee myself, and one who has survived far longer than those who “know” expected, I have expressed myself artistically as an actor and a writer and a director and in ways that transcended my own self-perception.

Yet, here I was blubbering like a baby watching this relationship unfold between Rogoff and Mozgala that transformed minds and transformed bodies. I have always been more than a little bit afraid of dance, or anything truly physical for that matter, and watching this surrender and this transformation was mesmerizing for me.

Sometimes, the impossible just isn’t…

I watched as this unknown project began, a narrow sliver of an idea that grew into something more called “Diagnosis of a Faun,” an artistic weaving together of medical science and art and humanity. I watched the impossible unfold, Mozgala’s lifelong awkward gait that never allowed him to truly touch the earth suddenly give him roots beyond anything imaginable.

Oh my, how I cried.

Enter the Faun isn’t that which I despise, “inspiration porn,” because it’s truly transformative and raw and real and honest. Mozgala doesn’t transcend his disability, but he dances right into it.

In capturing all of this on film, Rogoff and Wright have captured a rather miraculous documentary filled with moments of inspiration and education and transformation and so much more. They have captured the aching vulnerability associated with acknowledging one’s own disability while also being unafraid of lingering in those moments and allowing them their space.

Oh my, how I cried.

I watched the other dancers learning how to dance with Gregg, one in particular with a sensuality and intimacy that transformed and spoke words unspoken.

The film’s lensing is extraordinary, vibrant with humanity and spirit and electricity and humanity. The music by Justin Samaha just as alive and vibrant as these souls.

I fell in love with these people, Mozgala because of the richness of his humanity and the willingness of his soul to experience something new and different and Rogoff because of her illuminating brain and mind and heart and her willingness to take risks and create risks and explore stunning new worlds interpersonally and in her art.

The experience of Enter the Faun is everything I want a documentary to be, transformative and educational and life-changing and beautifully produced and both challenging and entertaining.

Indeed, our lives can be imperfect and our bodies can be imperfect and our films can be imperfect but in that imperfect lies, you guessed it, a different kind of perfection where the impossible becomes possible and the labels we’ve tattooed upon our souls are wiped away with laser precision by life-changing people and experiences and little miracles.

Indeed, little miracles.

Oh, how I cried.

Go to the review at The Independent Critic


‘Enter the Faun': Film Review

February 2nd, 2017 by vb

by John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter


Has dance training “rewired” the brain of an actor with cerebral palsy?

When choreographer Tamar Rogoff first encountered Gregg Mozgala, an actor with cerebral palsy, she thought his unusual physical presence would make for a unique piece of dance. She didn’t expect creating that dance to leave the performer so dramatically changed that he might walk down the street without revealing his disability. But that’s what happens during Enter the Faun, in which Rogoff and co-director Daisy Wright follow the roughly yearlong process from training to opening night. Though the filmmaking is no-frills, the doc (arriving more than five years after the dance performance) will be of great interest not just to dance enthusiasts but to those whose lives are touched by CP.

Mozgala caught the choreographer’s eye in a performance of Romeo and Juliet, displaying a sensuality that led her to think of mythology’s libidinous, boundary-crossing faun. But in her initial sessions, directing Mozgala and an able-bodied partner, she realized he could hardly move through a dance gesture without losing his balance. Dancing with him was “like leaning on a sandcastle.”

She set out to help him “reroute” his “alignment choices,” helping him overcome his fear of the ground and place his feet steadily upon it. By the fourth month of their work together, Mozgala — whose heels had previously never touched the ground as he walked — was capable of heel-toe footsteps. Rogoff had no background in physical therapy, but her coaching (point your tailbone here, your sternum there) had done what years of therapy and trips to the doctor could not. Soon, we see him walking so steadily he’s able to goof around with strangers on the street, studying their individual gaits in search of his own style. (He also comes to be nostalgic for the weird buoyancy of his old, “swanky” attention-getting walk.)

We watch as Mozgala grows more confident in rehearsals with two female partners; here and with his and Rogoff’s exercises, the intimacy that always exists between dancers feels more charged than usual. Unusual challenges arise, as when work atop a raised piece of scenery arouses Mozgala’s terror of losing balance.

As the performance approaches, we get just enough time with doctors to help us believe the transformation happening before us. “His nervous system,” one marvels, “is actually educable” instead of being immutable. Viewers may well wish for a bit more science, a bit more footage from the dance’s premiere, a bit more post-show follow-up than this brisk film provides. But what’s here suffices to stoke one’s hope for new ways of treating those suffering from this crippling disorder.

Production company: Tamar Rogoff Performance Projects

Directors-Producers: Tamar Rogoff, Daisy Wright

Executive producers: Veronique Bernard, Amy Handy, Jason Handy, Patricia Mozgala, Ilana Reich, Gregg Mozgala

Directors of photography: Andrew Baker, Richard Sandler, Greta Schiller, Harvey Wang, Paul Zink

Editor: Daisy Wright

Composer: Justin Samaha

Venue: Dance on Camera Festival, Film Society of Lincoln Center

66 minutes

Dancing past a diagnosis

May 6th, 2015 by vb

By Carrie Seidman , Sarasota Herald-Tribune / Friday, April 10, 2015

What comes to mind when you think of a dancer?

A sylph-like ballerina in tutu and pointe shoes? An athlete with chiseled muscles and a leap that defies gravity? A posture-perfect couple in formalwear, gliding across a ballroom floor?

Maybe not a woman whose head and hands tremble irrepressibly from Parkinson’s disease. Or a man whose erratic, tip-toed walk signals the cerebral palsy he was diagnosed with at birth.

Yet two movies screening at the Sarasota Film Festival this week feature just such unconventional dancers. And make no mistake: Both “Capturing Grace,” which follows a group of patients with Parkinson’s disease preparing for a public performance, and “Enter the Faun,” which showcases the collaboration between a veteran choreographer and a young actor with cerebral palsy, are about dance, not disability.

Leymis Bolanos-Wilmott, director of Fuzion Dance Artists, leads one of her twice weekly classes at Parkinson Place for patients dealing with the neurological disease. / HT staff photo by Nick Adams

Leymis Bolanos-Wilmott, director of Fuzion Dance Artists, leads one of her twice weekly classes at Parkinson Place for patients dealing with the neurological disease. / HT staff photo by Nick Adams

Each documentary highlights the power of the professional dancer’s tools to overcome the accepted limitations of a neurological illness or disorder, and to inspire a sense of creativity, hope and community in those whose medical labels have become a self-fulfilling barricade.

“It’s about going back to the essence of dance, what dance was before it became a high art form,” says Fuzión Dance Artist director Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, who teaches classes in Sarasota for people with Parkinson’s disease. “It’s dance as a natural impulse and an internal expression of joy, done in community. That, in itself, is healing.”

“Enter the Faun”

Daisy Wright and Tamar Rogoff’s “Enter the Faun” captures a similarly inspiring but entirely different journey toward an opening night performance.

In 2008, Rogoff, a veteran New York choreographer, invited 30-year-old Greg Mozgala, an aspiring actor diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy, to work with her in creating a piece that would explore the innate body intelligences that dancers, doctors and the disabled use to negotiate the world.

Greg Mozgala, a dancer with cerebral palsy who is the main subject in the Sarasota Film Festival documentary, "Enter the Faun." / Courtesy photo

Greg Mozgala, a dancer with cerebral palsy who is the main subject in the Sarasota Film Festival documentary, “Enter the Faun.” / Courtesy photo

At the time, Rogoff had no intention of changing Mozgala’s lurching gait or tip-toed walking; she simply wanted his own movement script to inform the work. But in the process of choreographing “Diagnosis of a Faun” — a dance based on the Roman myth of a figure who is half man, half goat, and that alludes to dancer/choreographer Vaslav Nijinksy’s iconic work, “Afternoon of a Faun” — that is exactly what happened.

Using a release technique Rogoff had learned long ago from a teacher with polio, Mozagala was able, for the first time in his life, to put his entire foot flat on the ground. For someone who had been told his entire life that his condition would only worsen, it was both liberating and disconcerting. For Rogoff, the transformation became the impetus for the creation of the film.

“It was shocking to see his heel come down,” Rogoff says. “When I saw the progress, that’s when I decided I had to document it. Greg is the actual proof of neuroplasticity. He’s walking proof that it can change.”

Rogoff contacted Wright, an editor with producing and directing experience whom she’s known for 15 years and who had collaborated with her on a previous film. The director combined hand-held diary footage recorded by Rogoff and Mozgala early in the dance’s evolution, with 100 hours of professional filming she shot to track Mozgala’s evolution and give the documentary continuity.

Choreographer Tamar Rogoff and dancer Greg Mozgala of "Enter the Faun," rehearsing in the studio. / Courtesy photo

Choreographer Tamar Rogoff and dancer Greg Mozgala of “Enter the Faun,” rehearsing in the studio. / Courtesy photo

The SFF screening is the world premiere of the film, but Rogoff’s work with Mozgala has already drawn plenty of attention. Acclaimed neurologist Oliver Sachs came to the studio to watch them work, a New York Times story drew more response than its writer had ever had to an article and Rogoff and Mozgala have demonstrated and spoken at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and cerebral palsy conferences.

The reaction from the CP and disability community was just as persistent, so Rogoff decided to “see how much of this could extend to other people.” They formed a group called the “Cerebral Posse,” composed of six adults with CP who meet once a month to do body work, talk about issues and interact with members of the medical community. Through the film’s website (www.enterthefaun.com) that concept has spread, with similar “posses” springing up as far away as Oregon, Poland and Australia.

Choreographer Tamar Rogoff / Courtesy photo

Choreographer Tamar Rogoff / Courtesy photo

Though she has no formal medical training and, in the early days, found working with Mozgala was sometimes frightening, Rogoff says the experience has made her believe dance has the potential to break through many engrained stereotypes of physical limitation.

“Part of the mission for me now as a dancer is to say to other dancers, you have no idea of how much you know,” she says. “Dancers have concentration, intuition, balance, a sense of the visual and of choreography. They have everything. We dancers have to catch up now and say, actually, we could be the solution to a lot of things. I think it’s just so evident.”

"Enter the Faun" co-director Daisy Wright / Courtesy photo

“Enter the Faun” co-director Daisy Wright / Courtesy photo

“Capturing Grace”: Special event April 13, 5:30 p.m. reception with Sarasota Ballet Artistic Director Iain Webb; 7 p.m. film. Florida Studio Theater’s Gompertz Theatre, 141 N. Palm. Tickets $50 VIP (reception), $14 (film only). Q & A with the director, Dave Iverson, the medical director of the Neuro Challenge Foundation, Dr. Dean Sutherland, and SFF head programmer Michael Dunaway follows the film. Additional screening at the Hollywood 20, 1993 Main St., 1:45 p.m. April 14 in Theatre 10.

“Enter the Faun”: 12:30 p.m. April 15 (Theatre 10) and 3 p.m. April 18 (Theatre 11) at the Hollywood 20. Tickets $14. Both Daisy Wright, director; Tamat Rogoff, director/choreographer; and film subject Gregg Mozgala will be in attendance. $14.

Tickets at Hollywood 20 Box Office, 366-6200, www.sarasotafilmfestival.org.


Tamar Rogoff from “Enter the Faun” will teach workshops exploring methods of healing, moving, and choreographing, for dancers, healing arts practitioners and the medical community:

Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. at Sarasota Ballet Studio 20, 10 N. Lemon Ave. $15.

Tuesday, 6 – 7:30 p.m. at Arts and Cultural Alliance, 1226 N. Tamiami Trail. $15.

For information and reservations, call 586-5349.

Ongoing local classes for Parkinson’s patients

PD in Motion: Mondays 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. at Sarasota Ballet Studio 20, 10 N. Lemon Ave; Lynn Hocker, instructor. Free. 383-1363.

Dance for Parkinson’s: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10-11 a.m. at Parkinson Place, 5969 Cattleridge Blvd. Suite 100. Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott, instructor. Free. 870-4438.


“Capturing Grace”:Special event April 13, 5:30 p.m. reception with Sarasota Ballet Artistic Director Iain Webb; 7 p.m. film. Florida Studio Theater’s Gompertz Theatre, 141 N. Palm. Tickets $50 VIP (reception), $14 (film only). Q & A with the director, Dave Iverson, the medical director of the Neuro Challenge Foundation, Dr. Dean Sutherland, and SFF head programmer Michael Dunaway follows the film. Additional screening at the Hollywood 20, 1993 Main St., 1:45 p.m. April 14 in Theatre 10.

“Enter the Faun”: 12:30 p.m. April 15 (Theatre 10) and 3 p.m. April 18 (Theatre 11) at the Hollywood 20. Tickets $14. Both Daisy Wright, director; Tamat Rogoff, director/choreographer; and film subject Gregg Mozgala will be in attendance. $14.

Tickets at Hollywood 20 Box Office, 366-6200, www.sarasotafilmfestival.org.

Carrie Seidman has been a newspaper features writer, columnist and reviewer for 30 years…and a dancer for longer than that. She has a master’s degree from Columbia University Journalism School and is a former competitive ballroom dancer. Contact her via email, or at (941) 361-4834. Make sure to “Like” Arts Sarasota on Facebook for news and reviews of the arts.

Read the full article here: http://www.ticketsarasota.com/2015/04/10/dancing-past-a-diagnosis/425834/

October 23rd, 2014 by vb


September 25, 2014


Redesign My Brain Series 1 has won an Award of Excellence at the Accolade Global Film Competition in San Diego, USA. Competition coordinator Rick Prickett noted that. Our festival received thousands of submissions. You can be justifiably proud of winning Accolade honors. The judging standards are high and winning means the craft and creativity exhibited by your entry is outstanding and stands above other productions.”

Redesign My Brain Series 1 has also been nominated as a finalist in the Documentary TV Production category of the 2014 Screen Producers Australia Awards. Winners will be announced on Nov 18 in Melbourne.

The series has also received 2 nominations for the 2014 Australian Teachers of Media Awards to be held in Melbourne on November 27. It’s nominated for Best Factual TV Series and for Best Documentary-Science, Technology and the Environment.

These awards and nominations can be added to the 2014 Logie nomination for Most Outstanding Factual Program and the 2014 AACTA win for Best Documentary Television Program. AACTA awards are the Australian equivalent of the Oscars.

In Australia, when Redesign My Brain Series 1 was broadcast on the ABC it received rave media reviews, massive ratings and each episode won its time-slot. The series has since sold to every major world Territory.

On September 19 2014, Redesign My Brain was broadcast in America as HACK MY BRAIN on Discovery Science Channel. It was well received and ratings were above average in the young male demographic range. “HACK MY BRAIN is the type of thought-provoking programming Science Channel is known for,” says Rita Mullin, General Manager of Science Channel. “The brain is one of mankind’s greatest uncharted territories.  Host Todd Sampson invites viewers to ‘play along’ as he explores possibilities of what we can accomplish with the power of the mind.”

“We’re very proud of the series and to get this global recognition is a real bonus. We’re currently filming Series 2 in America and our goal is to make it even better than the first series” says host Todd Sampson.

REDESIGN MY BRAIN, Series 1 and 2 is hosted by Todd Sampson and Produced by Mindful Media Pty Ltd for the ABC, Screen Australia, the Science Channel USA, Discovery Networks International and Universal Australia.

About Mindful Media

Mindful Media is an award-winning Australian company that produces compelling television for international audiences. Its mission is ‘making television to make a difference’. It’s highly acclaimed science and natural history programs have shown that factual television can not only inform and entertain but be useful as well. Applauded for being pioneering and interactive, Redesign My Brain was highly acclaimed by both critics and audiences, making it one of the biggest factual winners of the year on Australian TV. Founded by Emmy winner CEO and Executive Producer Paul Scott, Mindful Media works with talented film professionals, strategic partners in the science, sustainability and wellness fields and the world’s top broadcasters to bring original, relevant, large-scale stories to the screen. It is currently at work on Redesign My Brain 2. www.mindfulmedia.com.au

About Todd Sampson

One of Australia’s freshest and most interesting TV personalities with a unique ability to combine intelligent insight with humility, Todd Sampson is a star and co-host of the hit ABC Television series The Gruen Transfer, which has won multiple international awards including the prestigious Rose d’Or for entertainment. He is a regular host on Channel 10 news show The Project and has appeared on CNN, Sky News and the ABC’s Q&A program. The national chief executive of leading communications company Leo Burnett Australia, Todd is a co-creator of the Earth Hour initiative, a global environmental movement reaching more than 1.4 billion people in over 5500 cities. His company was the first Australian agency to rank in the Top 10 Most Creative Companies in the world and also was the first to win both the prestigious Global Cannes Lion for Effectiveness and Media Agency of the Year. The Australian Financial Review and News Limited newspapers list him as one of the most influential executives in Australia. He has won a CEO of the Year award twice and has featured on the cover of BRW magazine. Outside of work, Todd is an adventurer and has climbed – unguided – to the top of Mt Everest. @toddsampsonOZ


September 12th, 2012 by vb

by Shelley Rice

jeudepaume.org  April 26, 2012

“Do not awaken from your dreams, it’s too soon.” Duane Michals

I met Duane Michals when I was 24 years old. Throughout the years, he has been what I call my “spiritual advisor,” my role model in living life to the fullest. I was delighted to learn that the French producers (Terra Luna Films’ Anne Morien and France Saint Leger) of a new documentary about Michals’ life and work would be willing to let me post the trailer for the film on this blog; they, in turn, were happy about my plan to interview both Duane and New York co-producer Véronique Bernard. Morien and Saint Leger wrote a wonderful essay about the work-in-progress which was originally published in French for La Lettre de la Photographie (the Naudet brothers’ blog). Bernard has translated the text and I have edited it for an English speaking audience. Following this letter is the six minute trailer, a teaser for what is now a 90-minute documentary film (which is almost finished: the producers are currently fundraising to help defray post-production costs). As will be evident from the short clip, director Camille Guichard had a particular concept in mind while making this film. He wanted the documentary to bring forth emotions rather than historical facts. Instead of a predetermined biographical chronology, the work explores what he calls a “kaleidoscope of photographic sequences.” And then, finally, after the clip, as the pièce de resistance I’ve posted a short interview with Michals himself, who discusses what he has learned and what he has attempted to express in this latest creative endeavor.

Read the full post:


Watch the film’s trailer: http://vimeo.com/24129550

Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself: a film coming soon. 90mn, HD, directed by Camille Guichard, produced by Anne Morien & France Saint Léger – Terra Luna Films in association with Véronique Bernard – Iliad Entertainment.


by Stephen Perloff

The Photography Collector – March 2012

You could become a film producer!

The producers of Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself are currently submitting the film to festivals such as Cannes, Rome, Venice, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago for consideration. (You can see a trailer here: http://vimeo.com/24129550.) But the film is not finished and cannot be screened in its current form. And they have run out of money! In order to complete the color correction, original music, titles, sound mix, sweetening, and final finishing so it can be released theatrically, they are short by $50,000.

If you would like to see this film made and to help it see the light of day, the production team is offering the following premiums for your tax-deductible donation:

• From $100 donation: Pre-release DVD copy of the film

• From $250 donation: DVD and invitation to the premiere in New York

• From $500 donation: DVD, premiere and participation in a Masterclass with Duane Michals

• For a $1,000 or more donation: Invitation to private screening, Q&A and reception with Duane Michals (+DVD)

• For a $2,000 or more donation: Invitation to private dinner with Duane Michals (+DVD)

• For a $5,000 or more donation: Duane Michals Japanese Print, signed and numbered (+DVD, premiere)

• For a $10,000 or more donation: Your portrait taken by Duane Michals (+DVD, premiere)

All donors will also receive a credit in the film as follows:

• Up to $999: Special Thanks

• From $1,000–$4,999: Contributing Producer

• From $5,000: Contributing Executive Producer

Visit http://www.filmforum.org/support/more/sponsorship and under Film Title click on «Iliad Entertainment/DUANE MICHALS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED HIMSELF» in the drop down menu.

There is a $50 minimum and your donation is 100% tax deductible.

As the producers — Anne Morien, France Saint Leger, and Veronique Bernard of Terra Luna Films and Iliad Entertainment write, “Thank you for helping us to complete the film and we look forward to sharing it with you!”

Duane Michals, The man who invented himself

Le Journal de la Photographie – Feb 21, 2012

It was 2009 and we were headed to the South of France for the Recontres d’Arles. A large Duane Michals retrospective was planned that year, and we were curious to rediscover his work that spanned half a century.

The exhibition was held at the Archevêché. The quality of the photographs selected for the show was clear, but there was a peculiar ambiance in the halls. The public was simply enraptured by Michals’ stories, his series, his words, his thoughts. Viewers of all ages were transfixed by the photographer’s poetic world. And we followed the wave of people, fascinated, amused, touched. Never has an exhibition caused to many laughs and mischievous looks. The visit concluded with Duane Michals himself Moonwalking for the spectators. That night, at the ancient theatre, the house was packed and the day’s infatuation lingered. It wasn’t clear who was having more fun: Duane Michals or his audience. One thing was certain: we would have to make a film about him.

Anne Morien, Producer

Read the post and view the teaser:


Iliad Entertainment Press Release

September 7th, 2010 by admin


The Co-Pro Pros

International co-production experts Véronique Bernard and Lisa Zeff have changed the name of their co-pro and packaging indie to ILIAD ENTERTAINMENT. Formerly Myriad Entertainment, the duo found they were too often confused with other companies, including a Las Vegas resort and casino conglomerate.

Working with U.S. and international prod-cos, ILIAD brokers projects needing co-pro financing for U.S. and international networks.  Bernard and Zeff will present a comprehensive slate of new programming at MIPCOM next month, including multiple co-productions originating in Australia, the focus of this fall’s congress.

For further information, contact: