“You Are Not Alone,” director, producer, cast, and crew reflect on winning “Best Dance Film”
By Andrew Harris,
Just over a year ago local film makers were thrilled to announce that “And Still We Rise” created in Wellsville NY had won two awards at the NY International Film Festival. Choreographer Kate Martelle and Producer Nick Davis both took home trophies.
That accomplishment and success lead the duo to create another film, which won “Best Dance Film,” at the Cannes World Film Festival. “You Are Not Alone,” also filmed in Wellsville has not only been recognized in the film world, but has been a powerful message to anyone struggling with mental health issues. We asked Martelle about the theme of the film:
“The film is about how lonely and isolating mental health issues can make you feel. Your brain lies to you and makes you feel like no one else in the world is like this and no one understands and never will. It’s based on my own struggles with OCD and depression. I felt so alone and scared for a long time. I felt like no one would ever understand. There’s always been such a stigma attached to mental health struggles so people rarely talk about it and that’s caused more harm than good. It’s the really dark lonely times that lead to darker issues. And as much as there has been more conversations about it, there’s still a stigma attached. Even as I’m writing this I paused for a second before writing my diagnosis. We need this to change in the world. People need to be seen so they can help each other. So the premise of the film has the main character struggling and so closed off within their own struggle and pain that she never sees the other people around her who are also struggling. I choreographed and Nick created shots where the main character never physically sees them but the audience does.”
That theme also resonated with the cast and the film festival honor really validated that this art had real impact. It also validated that Martelle is very good at her work, and a very strong leader. We asked the cast a few questions about the accomplishment and about working with Martelle. Here are some of those answers:
- “What was your favorite ten seconds of the film?”
- Sarah H: My favorite moment in shooting the film has to be the field scene. The scenery was incredibly beautiful and I loved the feeling of everything coming together. Everyone was so talented in that scene and it was just amazing.
- Riley: my favorite ten seconds of the film would have to be the library scene where we start to see the true beginning of one’s journey through mental health frustrations
- Hayden: My favorite 10 seconds of the film is the library lawn. The choreography was just beautiful!
- What singular reaction do you want people who watch the film to have ?
- Markessa: I want people to feel seen and heard after watching this film.
- Sarah K: Comfort. Comfort in knowing that though you may be going through something and it may feel like no one understands, all it takes is for you to lift your chin and look. There are people who care for you and will be there for you no matter what.
- Bella: I want people to feel “seen” after watching the film. Throughout filming, the thought that I always came back to and focused on was “I see you and you are not alone.” I really want that message to be felt by all who watch it.
- Kate Martelle has been winning award after award, and each gets more prestigous. To what do you attribute her successes ?
- Emily: Honestly it would have to be the atmosphere that she encourages. From day one she has brought this whole cast and crew together. This is definitely shown throughout the film. It’s so easy to tell how smooth the filming went because we all felt like a family due to the atmosphere that she encouraged.
- Sarah K: This is my first year working with Kate and everything I had heard prior to rehearsals has all been about the love she gives back to her community and the connection she has to Wellsville. She is not a dance teacher for the money or fame, but the passion she brings to her movement. She makes her dancers feel welcome without judgement and finds ways to connect their life story with the message she is creating. It was amazing to watch her and director Nick work together to bring this message to life and the support she has from every life she touches.
- Sarah H: I believe Kate Martelle is so successful in this field because of her understanding of people and their emotions. She knows how to connect with viewers through a screen and how to get people’s attention by appealing to their emotions and troubles in their personal lives. Her creative and artistic direction is what really made the short film to become as successful as it has as well.
- Rylie: I think Kate’s success can be attributed to her passion and dedication to both her projects and her crew. She cares so much about her films but cares even more for us.
Nick Davis is the owner of Genesee Valley Media, a frequent collaborator with Martelle. Davis was awarded “Best Drone Video” for his work on “And Again We Rise,” and shared this award as the producer of “You Are Not Alone.” We asked about working on this film and with Martelle:
“It was a pleasure to work on this project with Kate. Every single person involved poured everything they had into this short film about feeling alone and trapped and trapped in yourself. Especially Riley, the lead. There was a time while filming that I almost lost my emotions when filming a particularly powerful scene that her acting took me by surprise on! It’s always a pleasure working with Kate on her ideas and this one truly feels special.”
Watch the recent podcast from Davis’ NDVision where he and Martelle sit down to talk about the film.
The awards, the successful Martelle Dance Academy, and becoming a role model for many are all major accomplishments. We had to ask Martelle one last question about her “secret recipe:”
SUN: Besides the award winning work, your cast unanimously adores you. Give us one secret to being such an effective, and popular leader ?
Martelle: I firmly believe that you have to care about the people more than the project. Kindness and compassion are something that’s lacking in the world these days and it makes a big difference. I am humbled by those that want to work with me and help bring my ideas to life. Without them I’m nothing. I appreciate and care for them more than I can say. And I tell them that often. Giving that this film is about a very serious subject and is very emotional it was important to me to protect my cast, not only physically but also mentally. They all know I’m here for them day or night and that they come before everything else with the film. Art can wait but people need to know they’re seen and cared for now. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, I’m just me and so grateful for those who want to work with me. But I do know that compassion for others is key for humanity.