Black History Month Berlin got together with the Berlin Film Society  to screen Dreams Of A Life followed by a discussion with the director, Carol Morley and the main actress, Zawe Ashton.  Dreams of a Life is about Joyce Vincent whose mystery of a life was revealed after she was found in her flat 3 years after her death.  Her remains lay in front of the television, which had been on since her death years before.

Dreams of a Life was nothing like I expected. I thought that this would be grim and somewhat boring because since no one came looking for Joyce for 3 years, I thought that maybe she had not led an interesting life.  The opposite proved to be true.  While her early death at 39 was tragic, her life was more complex.  The filmmakers bring the audience  into Joyce’s life in  a clever way.  Interviews with those who know her were interspersed with re-enactments feacturing Zawe as Joyce. I loved this format.  While the interviews gave often contradictory accounts of a woman who chose to remain an enigma, Zawe’s portrayals give you a possible reality.  Since so many facts of her life were lost in her death we were left to speculate and the movie mirrors the investigation of our minds and leaves us with questions about our own lives.

People are/were so eagar to distance themselves from her sad death that even many of her friends did not recognize her name when the news of her discovery were in the media.  It is tempting to think no-one that we care about could be so completely forgotten for three years. The films looks into the nature of relationships and exposure and embraces the contradictions of Joyce’s life. Zawe Ashton has almost no dialogue, yet her acting is remarkable.  After this film, you leave the theater feeling like you are connected to Joyce.

Below is a podcast of the discussion after the screening with Carol Morley and Zawe Ashton. Sharmaine Lovegrove of Dialogue Books moderates the discussion.