GÖTEBORG 2017: Beyond Dreams

Set in the outskirts of Stockholm, Beyond Dreams is the upbeat and confident directorial debut from Rojda Sekersöz, a technically trained filmmaker from the Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. An entirely female cast, Beyond Dreams doesn’t brag about depicting the average lives of a young group of women, one of whom is trying to better themselves, but instead, it beautifully portrays the pains of peer pressure.

Beyond Dreams follows a group of girls who dream of escaping to a warmer, happier paradise full of days soaking in the sun on a beach somewhere. However, until then they are stuck in the suburbs of Stockholm, slowly plotting the grand heist on a small reseller store. The film opens with the group picking up one of their members, Mirja, from prison. Mirja decides to break free from her past and start a new life. However, she faces obstacles from everyone in her life who understandably doubt her desire to change. Her cigarette-smoking mother on the brink of death laughs when Mirja announces she has a job working at a hotel, and her group of friends show up while she’s cleaning a hotel room and denounce her. Struggling to fight the system and prove her worth, Mirja is forced to confront what means the most to her: her troublesome friends, her struggling family, or her new outlook on life?

Beyond Dreams is primarily a story about who you are expected to be, both in your group of friends and in society. Mirja’s struggles against society start when she attempts to find a job at the Swedish work assistance office and faces setbacks due to bureaucracy. When she finally gets a job through her own confidence and will power, her boss pays her under the table and mistreats her, all despite her strong worth ethic and natural talent. But more than a classic tale of ‘women fighting peer pressure and the system’, Beyond Dreams is about the everyday woman: Mirja dances to herself, claps for herself, and acts like a normal woman. She is perfect cast with Evin Ahmad carrying the strong personality of this character. And while it wasn’t the intention to make an all-female film, it’s refreshing to see this story portrayed through a group of women, without the need for a male love interest to come into play.

Overall, Beyond Dreams is an excellent film about finding yourself. Having already picked up the Church Award at the Gothenburg Film Festival, Beyond Dreams will premiere in Sweden next month and is expected to do well. With the current debates occurring about the need for more female-driven films, Beyond Dreams achieves this without having to force it on the audience. A beautiful and inspiring film that’s a must-see for all.

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Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.