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Mud Water

Mud Water is a hybrid screen-dance and narrative short film that weaves together myth and documentary-esque storytelling about a man in search of his shadow, and a crew of turf dancers whose friendship is tested as they prepare for an upcoming battle.

  • My-Linh T. Le
  • My-Linh T. Le
  • Elijah Guess
    Gook, Ms. Purple, Broad Strokes
  • My-Linh T. Le
  • Phillip Mays
    Key Cast
    "Yung Phil"
    Turf Nation
  • Xaviar Days
    Key Cast
    Project Power, 10 Crosby
  • Arthur V. Gardner, Jr.
    Key Cast
    "Dopey Fresh"
  • Hector Ascencio
    Key Cast
  • Michael Chicago
    Key Cast
    "No Name"
  • Mark Andrew Barias
    Key Cast
  • Shawn de Ocampo
    Key Cast
    "Shawn of the Moon"
  • Elijah Guess
    Director of Photography
  • Isaac Fowler
    Production Design
  • Isaac Fowler
    Costume & Prop Master
  • Samantha Smith
    Assistant to Costume
  • Gabe Martinez
    Production Sound Mixers
  • MW Sound Production
    Production Sound Mixers
  • Jocelyn Amanda Lau
    Unit Production Manager
  • Reynolds Barmey
    Blue Bayou, Ms. Purple, Gook
  • Adele Etheridge Woodson
    Original Music
  • Vanicka Chan
    Additional Music Composition
  • Jane Lee
    Additional Music Composition
  • Alexis Harris
    Additional Music Composition
  • Jace Meierhenry
    Additional Music Composition
  • Alan Chen
    Additional Music Composition
  • One Thousand Birds
    Audio Post Production
  • Jackie! Zhou
    Re-recording Mixer
  • KT Pipal
    Sound Design
  • Jackie! Zhou
    Sound Design
  • Guin Frehling
    Audio Post Executive Producer
  • Justin Park
    Music Supervisor
  • Mosaic America
    Executive Producer
  • John Helgeland
    Associate Producers
  • Mahindra Ramcharan
    Associate Producers
  • Benjamin G. Thompson
    Associate Producers
  • Steven Wetrich
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Fantasy, Comedy-Drama
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 59 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 14, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - My-Linh T. Le

My-Linh Le is a Bay Area (California) -based, second generation Vietnamese American dancer, award winning choreographer, multidisciplinary storyteller, and former environmental attorney. Her work tends to be in the intersection of environmental justice, racial justice, and intergenerational trauma.

In 2015 in Oakland, Le founded Mud Water Theatre, a dance collective that highlights turfing, a distinctly Oakland, Black street dance and social movement that embodies joy, liberation, and the art of storytelling. As a competitive street dancer, herself, she is the first woman to represent the legendary strutting crew Playboyz Inc. since its formation in 1981, making it one of the Bay Area's oldest dance crews. She has danced for artists including Sanford Biggers and Grammy winning Kendrick Lamar.

Le has a Master’s in Fine Arts in Dance from Arizona State University (ASU) and a Bachelor’s in World Arts & Culture from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is currently working with San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) as one of the inaugural “YBCA Core 10,” a new program that will invest half a million dollars into the work of 10 artists who will be at the center of YBCA’s programming for the 2021-2022 year.

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Director Statement

Turfing is a dance style that originated in Oakland, California in the early 2000s. But for us, it’s much more than a dance trend - it’s also an entire community, a living, breathing culture. As a dancer born and raised in the Bay to war refugees from Vietnam, I found in turfing a kinetic archive of stories and histories that had long been left out of our libraries - in other words, I saw turfers not only as dancers but as storytellers, healers, and culture bearers.

In every way, MUD WATER is a film by dancers for dancers, the result of a 5-year-long collaboration between the cast and myself. I initially founded Mud Water as a theater performance collective based in Oakland, with the mission of expanding the contexts in which turfing is usually seen: rather than in subway cars and public sidewalks, we insisted that turfing also belonged in the theater. Using dance, projections of motion graphics, text, and soundscaping, “Mud Water II” as an evening-length stage performance peels away at the ideas of civilization so that we may find ourselves staring into what it means to be human once again. In similar fashion, MUD WATER as a film adaptation of the live stage performance is much more than a film about dancers; it is a meditative exploration of the hidden or abandoned parts of our selves, told through two simultaneous plot lines: one is the story of how everything came to have a shadow, the other is the story of the kinship bonds of one’s “chosen family” and the journey of self-discovery.

As a dancer first and filmmaker second, it was important to me to broaden the existing body of dance films, beyond the documentaries that portray strange, underground dance worlds, and beyond the flashy hip hop dance films that center white celebrity actors in action-packed dance scenes. I wanted to make the kind of film that I have longed to see: one that recognizes and treats dance as metaphor, as mythology, as narrative poetry, rather than as gimmick. MUD WATER is a way of filmmaking that incorporates the movement, breath, suspension and flow of dance-making.