Human Radio

(2002) 9 minutes, Super 16mm to video.


People dance in private moments of personal abandon across London in the summer of 2001. The film is the result of the director’s work with the first ten respondents to a local newspaper advertisement that she placed seeking ‘living-room dancers’ – people who love to dance behind closed doors.



Best International Short Film, Cork International  Film  Festival 2003 ; Best video, Video-Dance 2003, Athens; Nomination for Best Screen Choreography, IMZ 2002

What I think I like most about Human Radio is the pacing of its filming and the intimate sympathy of its connection with the dancers. These qualities are also what made Tattoo (which we screened last season) so moving. HUMAN RADIO is the result of Pennell’s work with the respondents to an advertisement seeking ‘living-room dancers’ – people who like to dance behind closed doors. She combines perfect telling details to show us just what we need to see to connect deeply with these people whose dancing is private. The shots are beautifully framed, taking advantage of the limited spaces of these people’s homes. The camera angles emphasise the dance. A girl invents her ballet in the living room accompanied by a shrill whirr from the kitchen, and as she leaps out of the room, and the frame, an orchestra swells. A woman dances in her kitchen, dreaming of a sequinned dress and a man in a night-club. The kettle whistles and we feel the dance live in her as she has tea with her husband who never lifts his newspaper. In less than a minute we know a part of her which he doesn’t. These ‘ordinary’ people are filmed with a love and attention fit for Baryshnikov. Their dances become ours – as exuberant, halting, skilled, or wistful as they, and we, maybe.
Charlotte Shoemaker, San Francisco, Notes on Curating Innovative International Dance films “Dance on Camera Journal” 2003

…Its particularly evocative use of sound & visuals, which it uses to transcend the apparently drab, exterior lives of its protagonists to reveal their interior individuality and spirit.
Jury, Cork International Film Festival 2003

Without dialogue, and led solely by the rhythms of the music and movements of amateur dancers, the film succeeds in nine minutes to instil a complete atmosphere. This gem, Human Radio , by Miranda Pennell, is a voyage into the intimate world of ‘ordinary’ people, who allowed their world to be filmed as a theatrical spectacle. When the short-film genre attains this level, it is a delight.
Jerome Delgado, La Presse: Cinema, on the Montreal Festival of New Cinema and New Media 2002