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Light in Our Lizard Bellies,The

by Sarah Abbott
Canada / 8:00 / 1999
sound / b/w

Through choreography and performance by Susanna Hood, and editing and effects in exposure caused by hand-processing, "The Light in Our Lizard Bellies" reflects the intensities that discombobulate us as we go through change and face parts of ourselves previously denied or unknown.

“A beautiful capturing of the triumph of the human spirit.” - Barbara Goslawski (Toronto film critic)

“I have never seen a dance film work so magically. It is cinematic instead of just choreographic. The hand processing is rich, pushing the film past time. The texture and contrast do that poetic thing of transporting you. Transcendent.” - James Herbert (American filmmaker)

“Viscerally powerful... a careful balance of dance document and pure form.” - Chris Gehman (Cinematheque Ontario)


From the dark, the normalcy of our daily lives, something makes a sound - something unidentifiable. It slowly gets closer and louder; we struggle with welcoming and resisting it. It begins to challenge our familiar patterns of being. Soon, it relentlessly turns us upside-down and inside out, takes us so high and so low, ceasing only when it has succeeded in transporting us to a new beginning.

The title of the film plays with the softness and vulnerability of lizard bellies, and the tendency for people to be disgusted by lizards; as people, we share the same characteristics as lizard bellies and often grow up feeling disgusted with ourselves. It is when we face our fears and learn to trust and honour ourselves that we find our light. The oscillations in the film’s exposure are like the constant changes in chameleon skin; the dancer’s hands stretch wide like gecko feet; and the narrator speaks of her skin hanging empty, paralleling lizard’s habits of skin shedding. The exposure shifts and bursts of light also symbolize the unknown - our light - as it calls to and disorients us.

The dance in “The Light in Our Lizard Bellies” was originally part of a longer piece entitled “Four Ways of Approaching a Door,” choreographed and performed by Toronto-based Susanna Hood, who appears in the film. The layers of rhythms that create the film’s vocal score were composed and performed by Hood for the dance.

Exhibition Formats

  • 16mm
  • 3/4" NTSC


  • dance
  • hand-processed
  • work by/about women


  • experimental
  • hand processed
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