2015 Sundance Docs in Focus: DREAMCATCHER

dreamcatcherWe come to the end of the first half of this year’s World Cinema Documentary Competition with DREAMCATCHER, UK director Kim Longinotto’s candid portrait of a woman’s redemptive fight against sexual exploitation.

Sundance Program Description:

Brenda is on a mission to disrupt the cycle of neglect, violence, and exploitation endured by girls and women in inner-city Chicago. On any given day, she’s performing interventions with at-risk teenagers, female prisoners, and prostitutes on street corners. She uses unconditional love, non-judgmental support, practical help – whatever it takes for them to change their own lives. But the most powerful weapon in Brenda’s healing arsenal is the raw honesty she can offer because she’s been where they are. For 25 years, she survived as a drug-addicted prostitute, even recruiting innocents into the “lifestyle” and abandoning her own children.

Using unobtrusive verité camera work that inhabits Brenda’s miraculous perspective, master director Kim Longinotto follows intimate stories along Brenda’s path. Child molestation, physical abuse, poverty, and silence are among the common denominators of their dire situations. Like a shining star in the darkness, Brenda appears, doing a dance and upending the paradigm: “Hold the rest of the world accountable for what’s been done to you… It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.”

Some Background:
This makes acclaimed doc veteran Longinotto’s fourth appearance at Sundance with a project, following SALMA (2013), the jury prize-winning ROUGH AUNTIES (2009), and THE DAY I WILL NEVER FORGET (2003). Serving as producers are Rise Films’ Teddy Leifer, whose past Sundance producing and executive producing credits include WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? (2013), THE INVISIBLE WAR (2012), THE INTERRUPTERS (2011), KNUCKLE (2011), and ROUGH AUNTIES; and, making her Sundance debut, Green Acre Films’ Lisa Stevens, a UK television veteran who first met Brenda in 2009 while producing CRACK HOUSE USA, and enlisted Leifer and Longinotto to join her in telling the story of the Dreamcatcher Foundation. Executive producers include Impact Partners’ Dan Cogan, also represented at this year’s festival by SEMBENE!, THE HUNTING GROUND, HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD, CHUCK NORRIS VS COMMUNISM, and CENSORED VOICES, as well as last year’s WATCHERS OF THE SKY and WEB JUNKIE; Geralyn White Dreyfous, whose 2015 Sundance projects also include PROPHET’S PREY, HOT GIRLS WANTED, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST, and THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, as well as recent alums THE CRASH REEL (2013), THE SQUARE (2013), ANITA (2013), and THE INVISIBLE WAR; and Regina K Scully, also an executive producer on this year’s THE HUNTING GROUND, THE MASK YOU LIVE IN, and PROPHET’S PREY, and a Sundance alum with last year’s PRIVATE VIOLENCE and FED UP, as well as ANITA (2013), THE INVISIBLE WAR, and MISS REPRESENTATION (2011). Working with Longinotto once again is her frequent editor, Ollie Huddleston, whose Park City credits include SALMA, KNUCKLE, ROUGH AUNTIES, and THE LIBERACE OF BAGHDAD (2005).

Why You Should Watch:
As will come as no surprise to those familiar with Longinotto’s impressive body of work, her latest displays a masterful command of observational cinema, enabled by the intimate rapport the filmmaker has developed with Brenda – a singularly magnetic subject whose own vulnerability in turn allows her to connect with a conspicuous empathy to the women and girls she seeks to help through her Dreamcatcher Foundation.

More Info:
For more information, visit the film’s website and Facebook page. Check out Longinotto’s Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2015 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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