Behind Barres

PAMA 2018 Movies 06/07/2018

BEHIND BARRES / Short film


Directed by Sophia Bender

Produced by Sophia Benderand Kerri Ann Foweraker


Tizana Saunders
Damien Welch


The movie is listed 3 times in competition for the 2018 PAMA for :
– Best Director of Photography
– Best Editor
– Best Actress

PITCH : A prisoner within her own body, Adelina feels the weight of the Ballet world suppress her as she is tortured by injury. Behind Barres follows fragile Adelina and her battle to succeed as she begins to detach from reality. Slipping in and out of her subconscious mind and the real world, she must learn to fight her demons in order to discover her inner strength.

Festival’s appreciation :

“BEHIND BARRES is a beautiful journey in the heart and doubts of a ballerina, directed as a narrative with a clear and smart mix of experimental dreams. You could see some “Black Swan” and “Requiem for a Dream” in this, but only with no violence at all except the fear the character has in herself.”


Behind Barres is a film about a dancer. It is a full narrative with a script and a cast. We strongly felt the choregraphy is part of the narrative but the point is the character, not the dance. It happens the character is a ballerina, but the movie is more than that.
This is why the film is nominated to 3 other categories but does not compete to the dance film category.



Director Statement

“Behind Barres is primarily inspired from my own experience of moving away from home and studying full time Ballet throughout my teenage and early adult years. As the gruelling world of Ballet began to overcome me, I found myself crippled with injuries while I watched my dreams disintegrate. I am extremely passionate to share my story through this film. I dedicate it to all the young dancers suffering through injury, who must find their inner strength in order to succeed.

Pursuing the study of Dance Film, for the past three years at the Victorian College of the Arts, I have been developing my own unique style of combining the genres of Drama and Dance on screen. The intention of the film was to combine the real world in juxtaposition with the subconscious in an abstract way.

I aimed to capture the raw moments of vulnerability that I had once endured through my injuries. In order to express this authenticity from my past and translate it to the screen, I began the gruelling process of digging through the vaults of five years of journal entries. This is where the writing process began. I wanted to take the dreams and metaphors that I had felt and combine them into the real world in an abstract way. For example, by using the glass cube as the metaphor for being stuck and unable to break free.

These Journal entries also became a key part of my choreographic process, with Tizana Saunders. Being Tizana’s debut to the screen, we used the Journal entries through improvisation tasks to organically assist her to connect with the role of Adelina.

“To be a prisoner within one’s body is perhaps the cruellest kind of suffering” Behind Barres is a film dedicated to all dancers who cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. A film to inspire and remind dancers that ‘you are not going through this alone’.”

 Director Biography – Sophia Bender

Sophia Bender is an Australian Dance Film Maker.
Leaving Tasmania at the age of 16, Sophia moved to Sydney to pursue her passion for dance, studying full time ballet for two years at The McDonald College. She then studied at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) for three years where she completed an Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance). While studying at WAAPA Sophia endured many injures and this is where she discovered her passion for Dance Film Making; using this medium as a creative outlet.
Completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in 2017, Behind Barres is Sophia’s Graduating Film. Her Second Year film I’m Not Hearing You, was in the Official Selection of Newport Beach Film Festival, North Hollywood CineFest (Nomination for Best Student Film) and was given an award of recognition for Cinematography, Experimental Short and Lead Actress at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival, in 2017. Sophia aims to be a pioneer for Dance Film Makers in Australia.
“Being hugely passionate in this niche area of film making, I would love to see it expand in Australia.”