Comrades in Dreams

Comrades in Dreams
Director: Uli Gauke

Germany, 2006, 100 min, documentary
They live thousands of kilometres apart from one another and yet are chasing the same dream. In Comrades in dreams, we meet people whose lives revolve around cinema.

One of them is Han Jong Sil, the North Korean with the unforgettable smile. She loves life - even one in which she is torn between propaganda, her own dreams and crop reports. She wants to improve the quality of other peoples' existence by showing them films. Vulnerable, lonely and full of longing, she dazzles like a comet above a sea of uniformity.

Penny Tefertiller from Wyoming, USA, too, has dedicated her life to serving the community, channelling her considerable energies into providing a meeting point for the young and the lonely. There is a hint of missionary zeal about her as she tries to make her dream of the cinema come true - rather like Han Jong Sil, she is passionate and brimming over with good intention.

Lassane and his friends Luc and Zakaria from Ouagadougou are self-confident and full of beans. They have risked everything to set up a cinema in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. There is truly a lot at stake for them: they have neglected their families to freefall into an economic adventure. And all to breathe new life into a rather run down open- air cinema.

For Indian Anup, in contrast, business could not be brisker. His cinema tent is bursting at its own seams when he shows the latest hits from the Maharashtra region. His blessings of his precious film reels at the local temple and unerring instinct for a good film have made him the uncrowned "King of the Travelling Cinema".

But the real show, of course, takes place outside of the cinemas. We get the chance to savour repeatedly the entertaining stories occurring in the orbit of these entertainment palaces. Tears shed for the Great Leader, cowboys at church, jealous wives and how the Titanic came to North Korea are just a few of the anecdotes shared with us, all told in loving detail. The unifying power of dreams brings our heroes close together. And the great quest for a little happiness is a constant leitmotif and reminds us that the best stories are not only told on screen.

All the four stories in this film are a celebration of people that burns for cinema. This can be taken as inspiration for cinemas all over the world and for the cineasts to find out the hard work behind the images on the silver screen. Uli Gauke has been able to make unique shootings in the closed communist state North Korea. Together with Andrew Bird editor of Faith Akin films like Auf der anderen Seite these four stories are combined into a nice documentary about cinemas.
Section: Storytelling

Screenplay: Gauke, Jeanette Eggert

Dir. of Photography: Axel Schneppat

Producer: Helge Albers, Roshanak Behesht Nedjad, Konstantin Kröning

Cast: Han Jong Sil, Penny Tefertiller, Lassane Badiel, Anup Jagdale