BEV reporter Sonia Zadurian reviews Kim Longinotto’s Dreamcatcher ahead of its DVD release, one month after it screened at Birds Eye View’s sell out International Women’s Day Gala.
At our International Women’s Day event last month, BEV partnered with Bertha Dochouse and Dogwoof for a special screening of Dreamcatcher, plus Q&A with director Kim Longinotto. Just over one month later, the film is now available to own on DVD and we here at BEV couldn’t let the occasion pass by without saying a few words about this powerful documentary.
Dreamcatcher follows Brenda Myers-Powell, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Dreamcatcher Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which works to prevent sexual exploitation and seeks to help current victims of sex trafficking. After entering prostitution at just 14 years old, Brenda continued for the next 25 years, until she decided to change her life. In her day job, Brenda works in a women’s prison, but at night she drives around the streets of Chicago, providing women with contraception, listening to them and offering them a way out.
The doc begins on the dark streets of Chicago, as the barking of dogs and the howling of distant sirens permeate the air. After a few moments, we are whisked upwards and witness sweeping aerial shots of the city. As the camera moves through the air, skyscrapers seem to sparkle as lights jump and play against their glossy glass panes. From high above, the roads appear golden and the scene is beautifully set against a soft pink sky. As the title of the film appears, you could be forgiven for assuming that Dreamcatcher is about to tell the tale of a group of single young women eager to make it and fulfil their dreams in the big city. Well, in a way, it is. However, as the words begin to disappear from the screen, sirens once again dominate the soundscape and we are cast back down to the streets where we began.
In the very next scene, we get a glimpse of one of the things that makes Dreamcatcher so special. After such a glossy opening, we return to the streets and watch a few interactions between Brenda and some of the young women she has beckoned over to her car. These short conversations feel raw and painful, as the women describe working the streets, taking drugs and being stabbed and abused. Intimately filmed in the confines of Brenda’s car, each of these stories is incredibly personal and demonstrates the remarkable level of access we have to a world which usually attempts to remain hidden. The key here is undoubtedly Brenda herself.
Brenda is the centre of the film; an extremely charismatic figure whose dedication and compassion know no bounds. Though we hear many stories throughout the film, they are tied together by Brenda’s overwhelming desire to help those in need. Honest and open, she uses her past unashamedly and speaks without judgement of others. Whether on the street, in prison, or in the schoolrooms of at-risk teenagers, Brenda’s message of love and understanding captivates and inspires. Her presence and her story transform Dreamcatcher into a hopeful and ultimately uplifting reminder of our capacity to positively change not only our own lives but the lives of those around us.