I Have Always Been A Dreamer

July 9, 2012 Erik Ernst Leave a Comment

Director’s Cut host Charles Monroe-Kane joins the Be more Tuned In blog today with a special dispatch on a new film the program will be premiering this week. Tune in to watch Director’s Cut: I Have Always Been a Dreamer 9 p.m. Friday, July 13 on Wisconsin Public Television.

Dubai and Detroit: I would have assumed that they have nothing in common. But I Have Always Been a Dreamer set me straight. The film by former UW-Madison professor Sabine Gruffat brings the two cities together. One’s on the way up, the other’s on the way down. The audacity of Dubai’s rise coupled with the bust of Detroit can leave a viewer speechless.

The Dubai segments show an excessive, surreal, postmodern city under continual construction. Dubai is artifice, shaped by an increasingly tourism-based economy. By contrast, the Detroit footage reveals the fall of a once-shining example of Henry Ford’s “city on the hill”. But these are just words on a screen. You must SEE the shared philosophy and contrasting present of each city to truly believe. Normally I wouldn’t write that. I not only host this show but I produce To the Best of Our Knowledge – a national show on public radio. I believe the mind’s eye is powerful. And film isn’t always the superior medium. But to watch, slowly, in silence, the juxtaposition of a past generation’s dashed hopes next to the dreams of another was a heartbreak only the visual medium could express.

But, of course, reality has other ironies in store. Since the film was finished Dubai has experienced, like everyone, the sharp end of our current world economic recession. They’re building these buildings even though there is no foreseeable use for them. A lot of them are vacant. It looks like… well.. Detroit.

Last year they built the tallest building in the world the Burj Khalifa – a towering 2,723 ft. It is empty.

The film won the 2012 Golden Badger for Wisconsin Filmmaking at the Wisconsin Film Festival. I asked Sabine Gruffat about the title of her film I Have Always Been A Dreamer and she said this:

“It is a direct quote from Henry Ford. But I was just thinking how the quote for me took on another meaning, which was that part of how we look at place is so much about our imagination and what we want it to be. So it’s sort of like wishful thinking, where you just want these places to exist that don’t necessarily exist.”

You can watch the trailer for I Have Always Been a Dreamer here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *