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Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatcher

Released 6 March 2015
Director Kim Longinotto
Starring Brenda Myers-Powell
Writer(s) Lisa Stevens
Producer(s) Teddy Leifer, Lisa Stevens
Origin United Kingdom, United States
Running Time 97 minutes
Genre Documentary, crime, family
Rating TBC
80

Tough love.

The latest film from acclaimed documentarian Kim Longinotto is far from an easy watch. Dreamcatcher follows the work done by Brenda Myers-Powell, co-founder of the eponymous organisation founded to help prostitutes get off the streets of Chicago. As issues of sexual abuse and equality light up the news agenda worldwide, it is fair to say that Dreamcatcher is particularly timely. The grassroots nature of the organisation – of women helping women, is deeply moving and inspirational. It highlights how the efforts of a few dedicated individuals can fight back against a cyclical system of abuse that seems unbreakable.

Brenda Myers-Powell is not only an inspiration but is also hugely charismatic. Born into a troubled household, she fell into the world of prostitution in her teenage years, only escaping when a violent encounter with a client opened her eyes to change. The work she does now is non-stop, whether it involves talking to convicted sex workers in jail, at risk teenagers in an after-school class, or standing on freezing street corners offering support to women walking the streets. Her humour, compassion and unflinching honesty shines from the screen, even as she relivesher own darkest moments.

As Longinotto follows Brenda, she is almost completely silent behind the camera, yet the warmth of her presence can be felt through the trust her subjects clearly have in her and the atmosphere of intimacy that she has established. This level of trust enables Longinotto to capture scenes that will stay with you long after the film has ended. One such electrifying, heart-breaking encounter happens during an after school class as the young students reveal, one after another, how they have been victim to the most horrific sexual abuse at the hands of adults who have gone unpunished and in many cases, remain in their lives. As one young woman puts it – the abuse was so regular that it became normal.

In Dreamcatcher, Longinotto has made a riveting, emotionally charged film that is also an important social document. As organisations across the world fight to decriminalise the women who have become trapped in these terrible cycles of abuse, this film gives a human face to the women behind the statistics.

- Linda O'Brien