'Dancing with My Father' explores family ties,
Manny Rock and his
daughter, Marcia, unravel their complicated relationship in
"Dancing with My Father," at the Cleveland International Film
By MARILYN H. KARFELD
When Marcia Rock's marriage ended in divorce, she sought to
understand the relationship's collapse the same way she'd explored
women in Belfast and life on urban streets - through the lens of a
This time, the award-winning documentary filmmaker turns the
camera on herself, her ex-husband, and her father.
Growing up in Shaker Heights, Rock, 52, says the only time her
father, an avid ballroom dancer, showed affection for her was when
they were arm in arm moving to the music. Somehow, Rock thought, her
inability to sustain love in her marriage must have its roots in her
"Dancing with My Father," an emotional look at the legacy a
family bequeaths, sometimes unwittingly, to subsequent generations,
screens at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 18 and
20. The film is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of
As Rock explores why her hard-working '50s father seemed cold and
distant, continually finding fault with his children, she uncovers a
family secret about her paternal grandmother, an immigrant from
Filming the documentary almost entirely by herself, Rock
intersperses present-day footage of the Woodland Avenue neighborhood
with archival clips and stills of early 20th century Jewish
Cleveland from the Western Reserve Historical Society.
The filmmaker's quest to understand her family's past leads her
to the tiny village in Slovakia where her grandmother grew up. The
documentary includes images of turn-of-the-century Eastern European
Jewish life that Rock found in museums and local archives.
Throughout the documentary, father and daughter dance, on wedding
and party videos, and, later, alone in the family room, as they
attempt to unravel their complicated relationship.
Highly personal, sometimes confessional, the documentary keeps
few family secrets. It must have been difficult for Rock to ask some
questions, and harder still for her father to answer them. But the
family dysfunction that she illuminates is hardly unique.
Ultimately, the filmmaker's honesty reveals some truths about
marriage, parents and children, and love.
"Dancing with My Father" is presented Mon., March 18, at 2:30
p.m., and Wed., March 20, at 7 p.m. at Tower City Cinemas, in
partnership with the Jewish Community Center of Cleveland. Following
the March 20 screening, Marcia Rock will participate in a free film
forum discussion with Cleveland playwright Faye Sholiton whose play,
"The Interview," is on stage at the JCC's Halle Theatre through
March 24. Family therapist Roberta Tonti will also join the
discussion. For tickets, call 800-766-6048.