Documenting dance: Ampersand Festival welcomes editor Georgia Dodson ’04 for screening of Disney’s “Madu”


Sunday, March 24, Kimball Theatre hosted a pre-release screening of Disney’s brand new film, “Madu.” The film’s editor, Georgia Dodson ’04, an alumna of the College of William and Mary who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English, was present at the event and gave the attendees insight into what goes on behind the scenes of a major film such as “Madu”. 

This pre-release screening was part of the Ampersand Festival, an event created to highlight the creative and impressive projects made by the College’s students, faculty and alumni. The festival hosted multiple films, guest conversations and industry summits. 

“Madu” narrates the story of Anthony Madu, a young boy from Lagos, Nigeria, who goes viral on social media and earns a scholarship to study at the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in the United Kingdom. “Madu” is not what can be considered a traditional documentary, rather, the movie belongs to a genre called narrative film. The screen communicates Anthony’s true journey, is filled with raw emotions and unexpected turns, and feels like a movie with a storyline, climax and resolution in many ways. 

“It’s different from a traditional documentary because it’s edited like a narrative film,” Dodson said. “Things are very visual, they are told visually, and not just through interviews or backstory.”

Dodson opened up about how the team behind the production was never entirely certain about how the movie was going to unravel, because the film is not actually scripted. In the midst of the production, Anthony learned he had a medical issue with his right eye—something that caught both him and the team completely off-guard. Dodson explained how although it was unexpected, and nobody knew it would end up in the main story, they added the new discovery of Anthony’s life into the film.

In addition, Dodson admitted her preference for narrative film, as she feels like she also gets to be a part of the story. 

“I would say I like this process much better. I like it unfolding, and not really knowing,” Dodson said. “I met Anthony, actually. I beat him at foosball, and we are Instagram friends, like we can chat. I get to be a part of the story in that way, and I like that part.”

Because “Madu” revolves around a rising dancer, music and choreography play an important role in the movie, and Dodson gave insight into her work on both elements. The film portrays Anthony’s raw talent in an impressive way: Lagos’s everyday sounds transform into music and prove to be a source of inspiration for Anthony’s dancing and performance.  

“We had a great sound mixer and sound designer, and she took my sound design and she just added so much to it and made it better,” Dodson said about “Madu’s” sound designer Bonnie Wild. 

Anthony’s talent is depicted clearly on the screen, with multiple scenes of him dancing throughout the film. 

“I think Anthony says it best when he says that he expresses his joy and his pain through dance, and he says dance is a way of telling your story about how you feel,” Dodson said. “And so, to me, he’s not a very verbal person, but he has very deep emotions, and that’s, how he knows how to release them into the world.”

Attendees were able to ask Dodson questions once the film’s screening ended, and everyone learned about the behind-the-scenes job of a film editor. For instance, Dodson described how age comes into play in the movie, as Anthony’s pre-adolescent growth was beginning to become noticeable on the screen. 

“His voice changed,” Dodson said. “So that was hard, I definitely took some liberties with the timeline, but we can only do that to a certain point, and his accent changed so much, so that made it hard.” 

As “Madu” aims to be a narrative film, Dodson had to find tricks to keep the movie from appearing constructed. 

“We had one funny situation, that scene where he’s saying goodbye to Sam at the end of the year, and they’re dragging the suitcase out. Sam says, ‘I’m going to miss you, Anthony.’ And it was so cute, but his microphone was rubbing against his shirt and you couldn’t really make it out. So we re-recorded him saying it, and Sam’s voice had changed — he went deep — and so we had to pitch it up,” Dodson said.

For Rose Caisley ’26, who came to know about the event through one of her current professors and helped out at the festival as a logistics intern, the event proved valuable. As a student that is currently on a communications track, she said the questions asked by attendees and answers provided by Dodson were very helpful. 

“I also think it’s very helpful because a lot of film and media studies jobs are highly technical and highly specified. So I did think, in terms of her answers, she gave really good answers for, ‘as someone who mostly just was editing the film this is what I did,’” Caisley said. 

Ellie Dassler ’17, an alum who attended the event, expressed her thoughts on the film. 

“It was a beautiful film,” Dassler said, “I think it did a really nice job of capturing the kind of complex of, I think Georgia said, you can’t go home again.” 

In “Madu,” Anthony’s struggle of going back to Nigeria to visit his family is portrayed clearly, evidencing his character’s transformation during his first semester studying in the UK. Dassler described the impact of these messages related to home.  

“That was definitely something that I took away from the film: how much he clearly missed both places when he was in the other one, and how both being from Lagos and the time he was spending in the UK were shaping him in different ways,” Dassler said.

Dassler also commented on her thoughts about “Madu” as a narrative film. 

“I tend to be kind of snobby about documentaries that rely a lot on interviews, which is a pretentious opinion to have, but I like documentaries that are more narrative and more showing things as they play out with less editorializing,” Dassler said. “And it was also just beautifully shot, beautiful to watch cinematically.”

Overall, viewers found “Madu” to be a heartwarming film full of raw emotions, deconstructed scenes and deep connections to characters that allowed the audience to rise, fall and rise again with Anthony along his narrative journey.


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