Obsessed with Light:The Genius of Loie Fuller

: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production


How could one woman inspire the greatest thinkers and artists of her day such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Auguste Rodin and, more than a century later, influence contemporary artists and performers like Red Hot Chili Peppers,  Taylor Swift,  William Kentridge and Bill T. Jones?


Obsessed with Light is a feature-length documentary film about the wildly original performer and inventor Loïe Fuller, the American creator of modern dance. Fuller pioneered the creative use of electric lighting for the stage and was a driven perfectionist who was unapologetic about her ambition and appearance and was open about her sexuality. 

Loïe Fuller (1862–1928), revolutionized the visual culture of the early 20th century and was a groundbreaking innovator, even building a glass floor onstage so that she could be lit from below. Fuller invented a completely new kind of spectacle that combined dance, light, fabric, and movement in a way that had never been seen before. She shot to international stardom after performing in Paris. Fuller launched Isadora Duncan’s career, promoted Rodin’s sculpture in the U.S. and consulted with Marie Curie and Thomas Edison to make her costumes glow. Her work influenced the most important artists, performers and thinkers of her day. Astonishingly, her influence has continued and anyone who has been to a rock concert or theater performance has seen a modern version of the lighting and stage designs that she patented over a century ago.


Not a conventional biopic, our film reveals Fuller’s influence on our current cultural landscape through interviews with a roster of international luminaries such as Robert Wilson, William Kentridge and Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of Dior. We interweave rare, hand-tinted archival footage by pioneers including George Méliès and Alice Guy-Blaché and newly discovered, never-digitized audio interviews of Fuller’s original dance troupe, among other elements, into the narrative. All historical dialogue and onscreen texts are taken from published and unpublished writings.

Obsessed with Light is a film about transformation. It’s about a Midwestern vaudeville performer, born during the Civil War, who became a world-famous star of Belle Époque Paris with her elaborate productions of ephemeral, shape-shifting abstractions. It’s about a woman, described by contemporaries as “odd and badly dressed,” who transformed herself into the “Fairy of Light” onstage. It’s about a visionary who disrupted the prevailing notions of dance and the imagined limits of the human body. And it is about a driven perfectionist who was unapologetic about her appearance, sexuality, ambition, personal limitations and humble beginnings.


Zeva Oelbaum - Director/Producer

recently co-directed and produced "Letters From Baghdad," voiced and exec produced by Tilda Swinton

Sabine Krayenb├╝hl - Director/producer/editor

recenty co-directed and edited "Letters From Baghdad," voiced and exec produced by Tilda Swinton


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The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2024
Production grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts
Grant from Regina R. Scully, Artemis Rising
IDFA Pitch Forum 2020


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