L E   F I F A
L E   F I F A
Loïe Fuller - Obsessed with Light

Canadian Premiere

Loïe Fuller — Obsessed with Light

Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum

Germany | 2022 | 1 h 29 min
English, Spanish |
Subtitles: English
Jouer Trailer
Presented only in theatres

Anyone who has attended a rock concert or theater performance has likely seen a modern interpretation of the lighting and stage designs pioneered by Loïe Fuller (1862 – 1928). Enter the world of the artist who invented an entirely new kind of spectacle that combined dance, light, fabric, and movement in unprecedented ways. She not only launched Isadora Duncans career but also promoted Rodins sculpture in the U.S. and collaborated with Marie Curie and Thomas Edison to make her costumes glow.

In presence of the directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum on March 24, 2024 at the McCord Stewart Museum in Montréal

Word of direction

Obsessed with Light is a meditation on light and the enduring obsession to create. The film pulls back the curtain on Loïe Fuller, a wildly original performer who revolutionized the visual culture of the early 20th century. Creating a dialogue between the past and the present, the documentary features Jody Sperling and her Time Lapse Dance ensemble and delves into the astonishing influence Fuller’s work has on contemporary culture including artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Taylor Swift, Bill T. Jones, Shakira and William Kentridge. In the process, the film uncovers commonalities that connect these creative luminaries to Fuller and each other.

The American creator of modern dance, Fuller (18621928) created a completely new kind of spectacle which combined dance, fabric and movement. She also pioneered the ingenious use of electricity for the stage, even building a glass floor so that she could be lit from below. Fuller propelled herself into swirling abstractions that made audiences gasp and she immediately understood the importance of protecting her ownership of these innovations. Always struggling against a flood of imitators, Fuller was the first choreographer to attempt to copyright her dances and sued in court as early as 1892. Given the recent Supreme Court decision in the dispute between the Andy Warhol Foundation and photographer Lynn Goldsmith, Fuller’s early battles against copyright infringement are incredibly relevant.

Anyone who has been to a rock concert has seen a modern version of the lighting designs that Fuller patented over a century ago.
Fuller shot to international stardom after performing at the Folies Bergère in Paris. Her rise to fame was intertwined with the very beginning of cinema and her Serpentine dance became an iconic subject for the earliest filmmakers like Georges Méliès and Alice Guy Blaché. It was also among the earliest footage ever to be hand colored. All of the hand coloring or tinting in the archival clips in Obsessed with Light is original.

Obsessed with Light is a film about transformation. It is about a Midwestern vaudeville performer who performed with Buffalo Bill before becoming a world-famous star of Belle Époque Paris and the embodiment of the Art Nouveau movement with her elaborate productions of ephemeral, shape-shifting abstractions. It’s about a woman, described by contemporaries as odd and badly dressed,” who transformed herself into the Fairy of Light” onstage. It’s about a woman who became famous on her own terms– unapologetic about her body type and open about her sexuality. And it’s about a visionary artist who disrupted the prevailing notions of dance and the imagined limits of the human body. Lastly, the film is about a lost modernist whose story is crucial to understanding both early cinema and performance.

- Zeva Oelbaum 
Other festivals:
Rome Film Fest, Italie (2023)
DOC NYC, États-Unis (2023)
Hamptons Doc Fest, USA (2023)
Palm Springs International Film Festival, USA (2024)
Director Sabine Krayenbühl, Zeva Oelbaum
Executive Production Denise Benmosche, Ruedi Gerber, Susan Margolin, Elizabeth Rodriguez Chandler
Editing Sabine Krayenbühl
Music Paul Cantelon

In Partnership with


• Musée McCord Stewart
Sunday, march 24, 2024, 03:30 p.m. — 05:15 p.m.


Sabine Krayenbühl

Sabine Krayenbühl

Sabine Krayenbühl is an award-winning filmmaker with over twenty theatrical documentaries and narrative features to her credit. She co-directed and edited the NEH-supported documentary Letters from Baghdad, which showed in the US in over 70 venues and was broadcast on PBS, ARTE and the BBC. Her editing work includes Oscar and Independent Spirit Award nominated My Architect for which she received an American Cinema Editors (ACE) Eddie Award nomination and the Emmy-winning The Hunt for Planet B. Additional credits include Mad Hot Ballroom, one of the top twenty highest grossing documentaries, The Bridge produced by IFC, Picasso and Braque go to the Movies, produced by Martin Scorsese, Virgin Tales, Ahead of Time, Jennifer Fox’s Emmy nominated My Reincarnation, Salinger on which she consulted and HBO’s The Price of Everything. Krayenbühl has a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a member of NYWIFT and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Biographical notes provided by the film production team
Zeva Oelbaum

Zeva Oelbaum

Zeva Oelbaum is an award winning filmmaker. She co-directed and produced the NEH- supported documentary Letters from Baghdad, which showed theatrically in over 125 theaters in the U.S. and U.K. and premiered on PBS in 2018. The film is voiced and exec. produced by Tilda Swinton. Oelbaum also produced Ahead of Time, a feature length documentary about journalist Ruth Gruber, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before garnering six Best Documentary awards. She comes to film from a career in still photography and her work has been published in periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine and collected in public collections such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Brooklyn Museum. Two monographs of Oelbaum’s photographs have been published by Rizzoli International Publishers. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in anthropology and a member of the Producers Guild.

Biographical notes provided by the film production team

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