All it takes is that belief in yourself to outweigh insecurity and doubts from the universe and those who try to break you.
All it takes is for your ears to listen intensely to that inner-voice spilling from your soul and encouraging you to go forward and continue.
It takes the release of fear. It takes courage and a realization that you can’t be broken. You can’t be broken. You can’t.
Dream and conquer.
DREAMS, an emotional and taboo feature film shot in Joilet, Illinois with production and direction from Joel Kapity, Marvin Winans Jr., and H. Daniel Wilson explores that challenge in becoming your own belief system highlighting the importance of dreaming and going after those dreams. Everyday realities and stories are told through the lives of four individuals trudging through the pitfalls and pains of their past. Their hurts range from mental illness, sexual abuse, drugs and incarceration. They yearn for change and it isn’t until they decide to let go, that they are able to fully access their passions.
During the film’s red carpet premiere opening at Portage Theater (4050 N. Milwaukee), which showed to a sold out audience nearing 1300, actor Marchello Lee took to center stage in an energetic dance choreography and singer Syesha Mercardo adorned the audience with a flawless vocal performance of Adele’s single, ‘Skyfall’.
Before fully dimming the lights and introducing DREAMS, director Joel Kapity took a moment to speak to the audience about the film and the motivation behind bring his dream to screen.
He shared, close to tears, “You never know what someone next to you is going through. I wanted to make a film that would encourage people to give to others and help people express themselves. That was the goal, to give others the opportunity to be free.”
Set in a rugged inner-city community outside of Chicago, DREAMS opens with with a dramatic dance monologue performed by Quentin (Marchello Lee). The style is ballet in form fused with hip hop movements as flashbacks of his childhood blur into the screen. The images allude to Quentin being sexually abused by his grown uncle. This becomes the evil working to trap Quentin in darkness. With his natural talent for dance, the art form becomes his outlet and he believes it’s his only connection to “normalcy.”
Attending dance class and working for a better financial situation while staying with his sister played by Terri J. Vaughn and her husband, actor Tommy Ford, Quentin excels and gains a gig at a prominent dance studio teaching choreography to youth and teens. His ‘demons’ aren’t fully erased and tragedy tries its hand at attacking again.
It’s always said that you can leave the streets but that doesn’t necessarily mean the streets have left you. There’s the remaining worry and looking over your shoulder to ensure that a past enemy isn’t seeking revenge. So, you’ve had a change of heart, that doesn’t erase the “work” you put in while still a street hustler. Then, there’s the financial struggle. Legit money isn’t the fastest. It’s the safest but not the fastest.
These are the issues that Alonzo (J’Son) deals with as he returns to society on parole after serving a stint in jail. Working to move forward on an honest route, Alonzo struggles trying to connect with his two kids- specifically his son, and their mother who has a new boyfriend. Temptations of the evils test his newly found loyalty to a positive and productive path.
Regaining trust and rebuilding broken relationships are not easy. There’s a level of belief and responsibility that was once gained and has now been broken. Choosing drugs and the hustle over loved ones and family not only shows carelessness of self but it scars those around you who may depend on you to be there full body and sound.
Paalo (Joseph Awinongya), a former title boxer, learns that the hard way. Presently, Paalo owns and operates a training facility in the community. At night, he opens “The Underground” the popular venue that plays host to aspiring artists, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents. His dark memories expose his infant daughter witnessing his drug addiction and soon enough getting high consumes his life. He loses everything and works to regain love and acceptance from his daughter.
Drawing from a personal space, new-comer Syesha Mercado portrays Mia who has a voice of gold but is haunted by the mental illness of her father, played by Mel Jackson. She also has trouble communication with her mother, gospel-great Vickie Winans. Due to these daunting memories, Mia’s game is ‘Let’s Play Pretend …’. She tries hard to fit in and paint a picture absent of pain. Mia speaks with a therapist who pushes her to make weekly accomplishments socially and personally.
Kapity navigates a compelling story with a potluck of music, aspirations, and rhythms serving as the films pulse. Though dark in its tone, the production flows in a poetic nature touching on weighted scenarios leaving the belief that dreams do come true - artistically as well as personally.
DREAM, Dream, and Dream again!
Listen to Syesha’s cover of ‘Skyfall’!
**DREAMS is a dreams on screen production