“Dreamcatcher” by Kim Longinotto (2015, USA)
"Fiercely compassionate and skillfully constructed, this film is one of the best director-subject duets in cinema" reads the motivation at imdb for Sundance's World Cinema Documentary Directing Award 2015. The awardee Kim Longinotto centers her film “Dreamcatcher” around former prostitute Brenda Myers-Powell and her relentless work to help young girls get out of prostitution, and equally important, to prevent at-risk girls getting in to it. As her side-kick she brings Homer, a former pimp and himself a victim of molestation. It's an important film to see, to help understand why so many girls (and boys) with histories of neglect, violence and exploitation feels that prostitution is their only option to survive, and Brenda, with her compassion, charm and charisma is a delight to watch.
The IFP and the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative hosted a special screening in NYC followed by a panel discussion including Brenda Myers-Powell herself.
Brenda on how she manages a full time job and the Dreamcatcher, if she sleeps, ever:
-I don't know where I would be if I wasn't doing this work. Sometimes I get frustrated because we don't have enough funding to make anything happen, and then a young lady calls and says thank you Miss Brenda for helping me, I'm in college now, I'm doing really well. That means the picture is much bigger than just Brenda. It's huge. So I have to get up out of my bed, with bad knees, and do what I have to do all over again, every day, because it's working, and it's helping people change their lives, and I more than anybody knows what it means to change a life.
Brenda on how she started Dreamcatcher:
-I've been doing this ever since I've been clean, going out, working, being the face of prostitution because it seems like most women who get out of prostitution don't want to talk about it. Nobody's an example or a role model for women who want to get out of it. I saw that, and I started to be very vocal about the issues that were going on with women in prostitution and I kind of became the face. It wasn't very popular in the beginning at all, it was nothing like it is today. After years of being pushed around, Stephanie (co-founder of Dreamcatcher) came and said listen, I'm going to get my Master's and we're going to start an organization and I said if you start it, I'm coming.
Brenda on how she found her light again:
-I met this amazing woman who told me women are the doorway to life. She said think about it, through a woman comes life, we create life. And I though about it, and I've been selling my life. I'm realizing that I had no right to do that, something so valuable as could bring life into the world. I never thought of it in that mannerism and that gave me my first thing of feeling very great about myself. And then she used to tell stories about women and how much we contributed to history and life and the world. I'd never heard these stories, see, I was always told I would never make it without a man. I needed to hear where I came from to know where I'm going, and the next thing I know I start feeling really good about myself. And then I started to look at Brenda as who she was, because I was clean, I was not a prostitute, so I went in to a three year abstinence with no men. And for me that was huge. I did all the self help books, went to therapy, I used to take baths and get up and look at myself totally naked and see who I was, and I started to find myself very beautiful. I dated myself for three years! And it was the best relationship I was ever in! Me and Me had a wonderful time! I found out that that whole spoof about me not being able to exist without a man was a lie. Here I was in a nice apartment with brand new furniture. I negotiated with a car dealer and I won. I was doing things for myself that I always though men had to do; I bought my first little ring, a fur coat for myself, and when I finally met my husband I had everything! The only thing he could give me was himself and love, and I had never had that before. And that friendship that I had with myself is where the light came from.
Brenda on the purpose of life:
The two most important things in your life is when you were born, and when you find out why you where born. My daughter said a couple of weeks ago, that you were always meant to go on that journey, because without that journey you couldn't do the work that you're doing today. Not only did they (her two daughters) understand but they forgave me. I used to always think do they forgive me, do they understand where I was? And they do probably more than I do myself. So that's where the light came from but that's not where the light ends. It keeps getting bigger.
While Brenda's story and openness about her life is worth all respect, to say the least, a slight question mark might follow the ethics of filming young schoolgirls telling very personal stories of molestation and domestic violence. The team managed to gain the girls' trust, but is it ethically right to broadcast their situations for the world to know, if they are still too young to understand the magnitude of that decision in the same way grown-ups can? Hopefully their participation will give no cause for regret later, but help other girls in similar situations, since part of the problem with preventing the at-risk girls from ending up on the streets is that nobody hears them, and the film is giving them a voice. It's also an important window into a world most people don't know very well.
“Dreamcatcher” is now available on Pay-Per-View at Showtime Networks, and will be screening at Hot Docs festival in Canada in April, followed by more festivals worldwide throughout the year.
For more information about the Dreamcatcher Foundation and how to help, please visit http://thedreamcatcherfoundation.org/who-we-are/
Based in New York, I'm an avid visitor of film and arthouse cinema with a Bachelor's degree in Cinema Studies and a background working for the Stockholm International Film Festival. I love the occasional blockbuster but often find indie films more interesting, so my main focus here will be what [...]