By Jim Gilles
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/7/21 – Currently going on at the TLC Chinese Theatres in Hollywood is a small film festival entitled Dances With Films 24 Los Angeles which began August 31 and running through September 12th. It features 24 new films from different countries. One of the best is Dreamover (2021), a debut “lo-sci-fi” feature film by Russian director Roman Olkhovka. By “lo-sci-fi” is meant using the barest minimum of digital efforts and instead relying on experimental ideas and practical execution to examine the “what-ifs” of the world and how such ideas could change our lives. Dreamover screens Sunday, at 9:30 PM at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The film previously premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival and recently claimed the Best Narrative Feature Award at the New Hope (Pennsylvania) Film Festival. The film is about a character named Demian (played by Olkhovka himself) who is brought to life in the dreams of an older version of himself (played by Ilya Chepyrev). Dreamover begins with the lonely vision of an older man stuck in the dull quotidian existence of his own life, as he struggles to sleep deeply after a repetitive workday.
To treat his insomnia, he turns to a researcher – after finding a card on the subway – who is experimenting with an ingenious method of sleep correction, arguing scientifically that love creates the strongest memories and accessing them helps create serenity. After employing this modicum of technology, Demian finds himself sleeping comfortably and having vivid, beautiful memories of his younger days, particularly with Masha, the lost love of his life, played by Angelina Savchenko. But these memories are dashed by heartbreak and remorse, leaving him lonelier than before and energized to explore another timeline.
As he changes his memories, he finds they may also change his current life and future, as one dream and one memory collide with unintended consequences. Now, just forget you read all that. A story told “by five film enthusiasts,” according to Olkhovka, the performances are natural and unaffected, real and engaging. Even in a dream world sometimes viewed through a gauzy, translucent lens, with the cool colors of Mother Russia, Olkhovka takes the audience through the four seasons in modern Moscow – a city he clearly loves – along with excursions to some of its bleak hinterlands. Certainly, one feels the influence of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, whose films often inhabit the spaces between dream and reality.
This thoroughly Russian film is a futuristic manifestation of the country’s rich, enduring and revered storytelling themes and traditions: Deep-thinking characters, sweeping scope, crushing dullness amidst beauty, lost unrequited love, long threads of friendship, and an Easter egg that sharp-eyed viewers will notice. Dreamover propels the characters and the audience across a fantastic alternate timeline, one where things might just be able to work out differently.
Other films in the line-up of the Dances With Films 24 Los Angeles included: Dan Lantz’s Alpha Rift, Steven Lee Mraovitch’s Vacances Á Tout Prix (Holidays At All Costs), Guy Noland’s Stage Managed, Daniel Robert Cohn’s animated The World’s Gone Nutz, and David Midell’s The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain.