Prescottonian’s Short Ballet Film Wins at Festivals

by Blake Herzog

Nicole Romine of Prescott has had an illustrious career as a dancer and choreographer, spanning genres from classical ballet pieces such as Giselle, TV shows including Fame and Solid Gold, even choreographing and directing singer Andy Williams’ production shows for many years. 

Her career continues to evolve as she moves into theater and film production, and last year a 7-minute film she directed called Mistress of Tears grabbed attention from several film festivals around the world with its moody, elegant black and white cinematography and performance by ballerina Anisa Sinteral-Scott. 

It also features an original score from Toronto composer Dave Klotz and the work of cinematographer JJ Bukowski of Phoenix.

Filmed in August at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, the short film has built momentum quickly, premiering in October at the Signes de Nuit International Film Festival in Paris.

Since then it’s been featured at 12 more festivals, winning 3 Best Director awards (Eastern Europe International Film Festival. Prague Indie InternationalFilm festival and L’Age d’Or International Arthouse Film Festival and Best Original score (New York Movie Awards).  It was also an Award Winner at White Unicorn International Film Festival India.

“Mistress has completely surpassed any expectations I had,” Romine told Prescott LIVING. “For a dance film, ballet no less, to be so well-received is astonishing. It is in competition with thousands of films from all over the world in these festivals, most of which are traditional dialogue-driven.” 

The film was inspired by a character in Moon, a full-length stage show Romine hopes to produce one day. It is the first of a series of short films she plans to release to drum up interest in the complete production. 

Romine’s synopsis for the film describes a character who represents the emptiness in people that provokes them to search for fulfillment by consuming whatever they can find in the world around them. 

“The Mistress of Tears embodies blind greed; seductive yet shabby. She drinks the tears of others because she cannot shed her own. She longs to feel something other than the vast emptiness that lives within her. She is drawn to light desperately needing respite from her dark world,” according to the synopsis. 

Romine says this insatiable hunger for complete fulfillment from outside is within her and everyone else: “And yet, she is part of what drives us to go beyond what we know — that power of longing to be more than we are can motivate us. Her darkness, her emptiness, makes space for creation and light.” 

Romine arrived in Prescott about 10 years ago for what was supposed to be a short stay to help a friend handle affairs after her parents died, but the Cirque du Soleil tour she’d been on-call for as an artistic director shut down. She also met the man who would soon become her husband. 

She has continued to teach dance, and she says a few of her many students have gone on to professional training and careers including Madeline Coury, a Prescott native who has been accepted by the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C.

“I endeavor to teach them what it means to pursue excellence and the importance of doing work that matters in service of a more peaceful, sustainable and hopeful world. The arts, quality arts, are vital for a healthy, beautiful life and community,” she says. 

Another one of her Prescott students, 77-year-old Rita Leroux, provided coffee and catering on the set of Mistress of Tears along with her husband Roy. Another student, Maggie Rathburn, assisted on the set along with fellow locals Ali Baker and Saul Hipolito. Hipolito also built the curiosity cabinet featured in the film.

A trailer for Mistress of Tears is available on YouTube and other websites, but Romine says its tour on the festival circuit will probably keep the full work offline for the general public until August. 

“The festivals sell tickets to their respective audiences who pay to view the films the jury has selected. Right now, aside from the recent festivals in New York and L.A., Mistress is spending most of her time overseas. I’d like to think she is enjoying herself enormously,” Romine says. 

For more information on the film, visit www.theatredelalune.net