Music Videos Reviews

I Dream My Dream (2023) – 4 stars

Director: Monique van Kerkhof & Bo Oudendijk

Cast: Monique van Kerkhof, Bo Oudendijk, Elizabeth Akimana

Running time: 4mins

The most disappointing aspect of I Dream My Dream is not related to the music video’s production standards, or the end-result they created. It is that it is not publicly available for audiences to see what I am talking about.

In the two seasons we have run a music video category at IFL, it has become a recurring debate as to whether a film should be publicly available to qualify. Music videos are usually produced by a visual artist to help a band or musician promote their audio work. Part of that remit necessitates the result being visible to general audiences, to help them engage with the music itself.

If someone makes a music video, and nobody can hear or see it, did they make a music video? Or have they just made an experimental short film without the guts to call it that?

Because co-director Monique van Kerkhof is essentially building on top of her own work as a musical artist, I am of a mind to cut I Dream My Dream a little slack, and agree with its classification as a music video here. But it is a mystifying decision to have kept the film for the private viewing of film festival audiences, considering the video could serve as a gateway to many more people finding her work.

It definitely would work to that end, too. This music might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it undoubtedly has an audience that would eat it up – with poetic musings deconstructing flitting perceptions of an imagined reality, layered over soft drum beats and echoing synth-chords.

Van Kerkhof’s unique style of vocals have a diversity which enables them to tell a story all of their own; something which will help listeners engage with her breathless take on the desperate futility in trying to keep hold of a fading dream. Initially, she begins with an entranced repetition of an English sentence; “I dream of everything; I want to dream”, over a steady beat – potentially replicating the half-remembered echoes of a story that unfolded in a sleeping mind. But after this period of apparent self-hypnosis, the lyrics seemingly move back into the free-flowing realm of dreams, and she breaks into more vigorous and energetic verses of Dutch, about how her mind “wanders by the light of the moon”; and in this pale light suddenly “just for a moment, I see you”.

This is enhanced by the beautiful simplicity of Van Kerkhof and Bo Oudendijk’s accompanying video. The entire four minutes is spent with the camera delivering a seemingly continuous shot of a white circle. As the lyrics progress, it becomes apparent that the space is frosted glass – initially revealed by a set of hands waving behind it – obscured and distant, a vague recognition of one part of a half-remembered thought. As the music ebbs back into Van Kerkhof’s dream state, the limbs come closer, constructing flourishing patterns, well-defined shapes, and eventually a lone figure into view.

Just for a second, we glimpse the “you” Van Kerkhof longs to see. And then we share in the tragedy of her vision, experiencing first hand the tantalising moment when someone who is no-longer part of her life is there – just for a second – standing just out of reach, before fading away again. That is quite a wonderful piece of filmmaking to complement a unique piece of music. It’s just a shame that general audiences cannot engage with it.

This film is a very competent music video, in every aspect except its distribution – which does not give me a clear course of action if I want to see or hear more of the featured artists. IFL will be happy to give I Dream My Dream a place in our 2024 festival. I just hope that more people will be given the chance to see and hear it for themselves before then.

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