Watch a new film about finding yourself through dance

Jacob Sutton’s ‘Desert Heart’ follows one man's journey to overcome the trauma of his childhood.

by i-D Staff
28 October 2020, 6:23pm

Photographer and director Jacob Sutton is known for his high production value and even higher drama films, whether they be for Chanel, Vogue Italia or i-D. Key to Jacob’s beautiful work is that he captures motion like few others -- whether it be a diver slicing through the air, a horse at full gallop or a twirling dancer. Jacob’s latest film, Desert Heart, takes this love of movement on a narrative journey. It’s a thoughtful visual of how dance can move us, in all sorts of ways.

Watch Desert Heart below, and read more on how Jacob told the story using movement alone.

Hey Jacob! Why is dance such an important part of your moving image work -- what draws you to it?
I think it's just something I’m naturally attracted to in images and film. My dad is an artist and I used to sit watching him draw for hours when I was younger. His drawings always had a great sense of movement and tension to them. I think his love of dancers and movement had quite an effect on my work. My mum was also a dancer in her younger years.

What made you want to focus on dance for Desert Heart?
For me, some of the most powerful moments in cinema rely on visual storytelling. This is not to say that great dialogue doesn’t have its place, but I was excited by the idea of making a film that told a story through movement alone.

Choreography has the ability to tell stories in a very immediate and intuitive way. There is something we all inherently understand about touch and our physical relationship to the world that is often hard to put into words. This makes choreography a really powerful narrative tool that can tell emotionally complex stories in a way we might not through words.

What music did you use in this -- it is a vibe!
Apart from The Pretenders track, all the music is composed by Shervin Shaeri. We’ve worked really closely over the years on a number of projects. We composed the score alongside the editing of the film in a number of very long sessions.

What’s your favourite dance number?
Considering the amount of work I do with dancers, I’m not much of a mover. I’ll hit the dance floor like anyone else after a few drinks, but it’s not something I’d want on film. The best dance performance I’ve ever seen on stage is Season’s Canon choreographed by Crystal Pite at Paris Opera. It’s literally the best thing I’ve ever seen. I think the best dance in a narrative film is probably the old classics like Singing in The Rain. I did think that Anima on Netflix was a really strong bit of storytelling.