Gail Freedman's Documentary Goes Inside the World of Same-Sex Ballroom Dance

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First Run Features is proud to announce the theatrical premiere of Hot to Trot, a new documentary directed by Gail Freedman. The film opens at New York’s Quad Cinema beginning August 24, 2018, followed by the Los Angeles premiere at Laemmle’s Music Hall beginning September 14, 2018. Runs in select cities nationwide to follow.

An immersive character study – and an idiosyncratic attack on bigotry – Hot to Trot gets up on the stage and goes behind the scenes to discover the captivating but little known world of same-sex competitive ballroom dance, a world where expressions of personal passion become a political statement, and where one false step can crush aspirations.

Away from their graceful turns on the dance floor, the characters’ backstories frame their struggles and conflicts in life. The film follows charismatic Ernesto Palma, a former meth addict from Costa Rica, who strives for success and love; gritty, determined Emily Coles, a diabetic who wears an insulin pump 24/7…even while performing; handsome Nikolai Shpakov, a dazzling dance champion, who came out only a few years ago and still longs for the full acceptance of his Russian family; and introspective Kieren Jameson, whose identity was forged in the strict, conservative environment of a New Zealand military household. Hot to Trot follows the dancers over a four-year period, as it watches their relationships with family, dance partners, life partners – and themselves – develop and deepen.

For these individuals, dance is a form of personal power and political engagement that simultaneously shapes their identities and helps them overcome uniquely personal challenges. They are not mere emblems of LGBTQ politics – they are living them.



Filmmaker Bio


Gail Freedman (Director & Producer): A one-time aspiring concert pianist, Gail Freedman abandoned the stage for the screen many years ago, with brief stops in academia, government and health care along the way.

It hasn’t exactly been a planned migration, but in 20-plus years as an award-winning filmmaker, she has produced, directed and written dozens of documentaries on a wide range of subjects, through her company, Parrot Productions. She has also taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Among her films is Making the 9/11 Memorial, a primetime special for The History Channel, which aired on the 10th anniversary of September 11th, when the Memorial opened.

Other notable films, among many, have included Breaking the Silence Barrier, Where’s The Cure?, Generation Rx, Lessons for the Future, Giving While Living, and A Forever Family. Her creative output encompasses independent projects, as well as extensive work for PBS, network television, cable, syndication and the Internet, along with educational and non-profit films.

She was also Executive Producer of the 13-part PBS series, World@Large with David Gergen, as well as producer of the indie feature (and the world’s first hyper-linked movie), The Onyx Project, starring David Strathairn. Early in her career, Gail worked at both CBS 60 Minutes and ABC 20/20.