NEW YORK, NY – November 18, 2011 – MUSICAL CHAIRS, the latest film by renowned director Susan Seidelman, will be released by Paladin, it was announced by company President, Mark Urman. A unique blend of dance, drama, and romance, the film stars newcomers Leah Pipes and E.J. Bonilla as a pair of unlikely lovers in contemporary New York who must face a number of challenges, both separately and together, before finding one another--and themselves. Also starring Tony-winner Priscilla Lopez, Jaime Tirelli, Laverne Cox, Morgan Spector, Auti Angel, Jerome Preston Bates, Nelson R. Landrieu, and Angelic Zambrana, MUSICAL CHAIRS was produced by Janet Carrus and Joey Dedio. Its first official presentation in New York will take place at Lincoln Center on January 28th as the centerpiece film of its annual “Dance On Camera” festival. Paladin plans to release the film in select engagements in March of next year.
Set against the exciting backdrop of competitive ballroom dancing, MUSICAL CHAIRS is about Armando (Bonilla) a Bronx-bred Latino who aspires to be a dancer but whose only way in is as handyman at a Manhattan dance studio, and Mia (Pipes), an Upper East Side princess who is the studio's star performer. Though worlds apart, their shared passion for dance promises to bring them together until a tragic accident changes Mia's life forever, and she finds herself wheelchair-bound at a rehab facility, with her dreams of a dance career shattered. Fortunately, Armando has enough dreams for both of them and, when he hears about a wheelchair ballroom dance competition that will soon be held in NY, he sees a way to return something to Mia that she thinks is lost forever. At first she is reluctant--wheelchair dancing, though highly popular overseas, is something she never even knew existed. But, with the help of several other patients at the rehab center, Armando organizes an intense training program that will bring them all center stage and in the spotlight. The prize is irrelevant; what they really stand to win back is their zest for life.
About the film Urman says, “everything about MUSICAL CHAIRS is a happy surprise except, of course, the excellence of the filmmaking. As in all her best work, Susan has put seemingly marginal characters front and center in her film, and shows us not what makes them different, but what makes them just like us. Her customary blend of wit and warmth is evident in every frame. Seidelman, whose most recent feature was the indie hit, “Boynton Beach Club,” has numerous studio titles to her credit, including “Making Mr. Right,” “Cookie,”and “She Devil,” as well as the pilot for the HBO series “Sex And The City” -- but it was her earlier “outsider” films, “Smithereens,” (the first American independent film to be shown in competition at Cannes), and “Desperately Seeking Susan,” that propelled her to the forefront of her generation of filmmakers. About MUSICAL CHAIRS she says, “What appealed to me so much about this project was the diversity of the characters: culturally, physically, and gender-wise. I wanted to capture the energy and contrast that makes New York City such an interesting place to live and work.”
It was producer Janet Carrus, long active in charities benefitting the disabled, and herself an ardent ballroom dance enthusiast, who first had the idea of building a film around the phenomenon of wheelchair ballroom dancing, an activity long popular in Europe and Asia, but which is only now developing a wider following in the United States. About the film, which features both disabled and able-bodied performers in its rousing dance scenes, Carrus says,“Susan has succeeded in conveying the struggles we all face, both able-bodied and disabled, making our way, whether through life or on the dance floor. She has a real talent for embracing people in all their diversity and making them real, believable, and acceptable.” Fellow producer Joey Dedio, (who also co-stars in the film as Armando’s feckless uncle), says, “Paladin is the perfect home for this special film. Mark Urman, a staple of independent cinema, really ‘gets it,’ and we’re thrilled to be working with him to reach the widest possible audience.”
Capping off a busy year that included the highly successful release of Tom Shadyac’s “I AM,” Paladin’s most recent project was Tiffany Shlain’s award-winning documentary, “Connected,” which played theatrically throughout the fall. Next up for the company is the New Zealand smash-hit, “Boy,” by Taika Waititi, which opens in NY on March 2, 2012.