Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan

Filmmaker: Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger
Runtime: 90 min

Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan offers an intimate portrait of ballerina Wendy Whelan as she prepares to leave New York City Ballet after a record-setting three decades with the company. One of the modern era’s most acclaimed dancers, Whelan was a principal ballerina for NYCB and danced numerous ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, as well as new works by more modern standout choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. As the film opens, Whelan is 46, battling an injury that has kept her from the stage, and facing the prospect of her retirement from the company. What we see is a woman of tremendous strength, resilience, and good humor. We watch Whelan brave the surgery that she hopes will enable her comeback to NYCB and we watch her begin to explore the world of contemporary dance, as she steps outside the traditionally patriarchal world of ballet to create Restless Creature, a collection of four contemporary vignettes forged in collaboration with four young choreographers.

Throughout this riveting documentary, we watch Whelan grapple with questions of her own identity and worth. Whelan’s unflinching honesty, her tireless determination, and her winsome attitude—along with her breathtaking dancing—make Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan not just a fascinating portrait of an artist grappling with change but also a delight to watch.

About The Filmmaker

Among her documentary credits, Ms. Saffire directed and produced Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan, a film about New York City Ballet’s principal ballerina, Whelan, has been described by The New York Times as “America’s greatest contemporary ballerina.” The Film premiered at the 54th New York Film Festival and won the Chita Rivera Awards for outstanding direction in a documentary release.

A Conversation with Gregory Peck, a collaboration with Barbara Kopple & Cecilia Peck, premiering at the 53rd Cannes Film Festival; Wild Man Blues a feature-length film on Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band, selected by the National Board of Review and Broadcasts Critic’s Association as Best Documentary; My Generation, a film that examines the Woodstock legacy; Married In America, a collaboration with British director, Michael Apted, is a multi-year, multi-program documentary following the lives of nine couples across the country all married in 2001; Smash His Camera, about famed paparazzo, Ron Galella is a collaboration with Adam Schlesinger and Leon Gast, which won Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival, and nominated for Best Documentary by the Producers Guild Awards and the 62nd Emmys; Sporting Dreams, a film for Al Jazeera America examining youth sports in America.