MIFF09 review: OUR CITY DREAMS (dir. Chiara Clemente)

our city dreams

Review by Conall Cash (catabloguing.wordpress.com)

A fun idea for a documentary, Our City Dreams follows five female artists of different ages who have moved to New York City from a variety of locales, and made their lives and their careers there. Attempting to offer impressions of the personality, artistic sensibility and personal history of five different contemporary artists in the space of about ninety minutes, the film is not exactly Rivette’s Belle Noiseuse, but it’s impressive how much it manages to pack in given its limitations, without feeling at all cluttered. It helps that the filmmaker, Chiara Clemente, has chosen five immensely likable, interesting women as her subjects, so that even in the cases where we may not really have been offered much insight into the artist’s work, we feel as though we’ve got to know them so well that we’ll be sure to make a note to read up about their work afterwards. Ultimately, this motivation that the film leaves you with to go and find out more about each of the artists is far more significant than the overall structure with which Clemente surrounds the individual portraits; despite the traveling shots of various cityscapes that pop up between each segment, and the use of NY-centric music on the soundtrack (from cool Brooklyn bands like Japanther to Gershwin-style standards), not much of an impression of New York is really offered, beyond showing it to be a place where, if you’re successful, you can get a pretty big apartment and/or studio space to make your art in. Perhaps this flaw could be read as indicative of the sometimes-remarked lament that the contemporary New York art scene lacks a real sense of community and collaboration, but fortunately these five artists (particularly Marina Abramovic, who comes across both as the most well-spoken and the most artistically dynamic of the lot) are impressive and approachable enough to dispel any serious discontentment.

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