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How She Move

About the Film
Year Released: 
Running Time: 

Raya, a teenager with medical-school aspirations, can no longer afford the tuition at her private high school. When she returns to her tough neighborhood, she dreams of returning to her school, but she needs money. Opportunity knocks when she learns about a step-dancing competition with a top prize of $50,000. She dances her way onto her friend Bishop's all-male JSJ crew and shakes things up as the only girl. The other guys are wary, and the girls are jealous, but Raya only has eyes for the prize and tries to stay above the drama. When she breaks rank and shows off during a preliminary competition, Bishop ignores the chemistry developing between them and throws her out of the JSJ. Raya must either find a new crew or win back Bishop's trust.

Set under the oppressive gray skies of a Toronto winter, How She Move is a well-drawn portrait of a girl who learns that winning always comes at a price. The energizing hip-hop soundtrack fuels exciting and inspiring step-dancing sequences, where characters connect, let aggressions out, and find the strength to escape their bleak surroundings. Authentic performances help turn this coming-of-age story into a gritty, realistic, urban-dance film.

— Matt Anderson, Sundance Film Festival

Poster Image: 
Film Director: 
Production Info
Reported or Estimated Budget: 
Hamilton, Ontario & Detroit, Michigan
Other Interesting Production Info: 
Shot in Hamilton for finanacial reasons. Very low budget film and Hamilton was offering tax credits to people who wanted to film there.
Categories About the Film
coming of age
urban life
Racial/Ethnic Affiliation: 
African American
Filmmaking Team
Writer's Name: 
Annmarie Morais
Colin Brunton
Andrê Pienaar
Primary Cast: 
Rutina Wesley, Dwain Murphy, Kevin Duhaney, Tracey 'Tre'Armstrong
Exhibition/Distribution Info
Paramount Vantage, Sienna Films, Celluloid Dreams, MTV Films
Box Office Earnings: 
Where to find it/How to get it: 
Streaming (Netflix or other online sites)

Nominated for DGC Team Award- Directors Guild of Canada

Nominated for Golden Reel Award- Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA

Nominated for Grand Jury Prize- Sundance Film Festival

Personal Film Review and Cultural Context: 

This is the epitome of what a dance film should include-- hard-hitting step dance moves combined with an excellent cast and story produce a new outlook on a predominantly male dominated form of dance. Starring Rutina Wesley from the hit show True Blood in her breakout role as Raya as well as Grammy nominated Keyshia Cole. Raya struggles to revitalize her love for dance when she returns to her old neighborhood filled with crime and memories of her sisters death. Raya and her male step crew enter a competition worth fifty grand that could potentially pay for her way to college. Keep up if you can with this fast-paced choreography and risk-taking story line! -Ashlee Williams