Special screening: California Dreams

(c) California Dreams @number 7 films

Exclusively in the cinema: friends of challenging cinema can look forward to a very special presentation at the B3 Festival Cinema. American director Mike Ott presents his latest prizewinning work “CALIFORNIA DREAMS”, a foray into the dark side of the American dream; a film about dreams, hopes, fears and desires.

(c) California Dreams, Still, Carola in car @number 7 filmsFrom acclaimed director Mike Ott (LAKE LOS ANGELES, ACTOR MARTINEZ) comes the new comedy documentary feature CALIFORNIA DREAMS, presenting five unique individuals in pursuit of a big life change. Through auditions set up in small towns across Southern California, the film shows genuine characters with big Hollywood aspirations who, for various reasons, have never had the opportunity to pursue their dreams. With subjects including celebrity impersonators, aspiring writers, and a former Red Cross nurse, this bitingly funny film reveals the strange and entrancing hypnotic grip that Hollywood has, in some way or form, on everyone.

California Dreams @number 7 filmsTrain tracks Neil Cory

Director’s Statement

I’ve always been struck by the quote from Chris Smith’s documentary AMERICAN MOVIE, when Mark Borchardt’s girlfriend speaks of Mark’s cinematic dreams, “he wants to be somewhere he’s not, but don’t we all want to be somewhere we’re not?” This quote has haunted me since I first saw the film, not just as an artist, but as a person, a person like Mark, with dreams, hopes, fears, and desires. This is part of the inspiration for CALIFORNIA DREAMS.

For this film, we set up auditions in small towns throughout California, hoping to find genuine characters with Hollywood aspirations, but who for various reasons (class, race, location, etc.) never had the opportunity to pursue them. The audition process involved actors doing a scene from their favorite Hollywood film, with the hope of finding hidden truth in what their dream actually means to them. What we discovered was that some use this Hollywood dream to find fame, some want to find love, and some just want to be acknowledged that they exist at all.

Our main character that stitches the narrative together is Cory Zacharia, a 28 year old aspiring actor who dreams of one day becoming famous and leaving the country to live in Finland. In reality, Cory survives on welfare while he lives with his mother in Section 8 housing in Lancaster, California.

California Dreams @number 7 filmsCory sunset, smoke

Cory grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, and because of that has extreme issues with his sexuality, especially since his mom locked him up in a mental institution on two separate occasions after she found out he engaged in sex with men. So for Cory, becoming a famous actor isn’t just about being rich, it’s about finally being able to escape the oppressive home life he abhors. Whether Cory likes men, women, or both, is something I don’t know for sure, but I do know that somewhere in his head he feels that his dream of Hollywood will somehow fix all the problems he’s spent a lifetime avoiding. Maybe that’s why he’s become so obsessed with making it to Finland one day, a place he has deemed a land where anything can happen: acceptance, friendship, and the chance to find true love.

In the end, California Dreams is more than just a film about the dream of making it in Hollywood. It’s about the dreams we all have, of being something else, or somewhere else, or someone else. That contrast between who we really are as people and who we want to be in the hallucination that is cinema is something I find so inspiring, and at the same time, extremely heartbreaking. Since its inception, Hollywood has been a place full of dreams and desires, and even though we can all see the Hollywood sign on the hill, most dreamers never actually reach it. But for me, these are the stories worth telling.

- Mike Ott, director of CALIFORNIA DREAMS

California Dreams @number 7 filmsStripper