Sweet Dreams are made of these

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Sophie faceLast night we screened Fai bei sogni (or Sweet Dreams), the new film from director Marco Bellochio, at the beautiful Hospital Club in Covent Garden. We invited a group of people involved in various aspects of Italian life in the UK, including lecturers, scientists, and representatives from the Italian embassy and the Italian Chamber of Commerce.

Sweet Dreams follows the story of Massimo (Nicolò Cabras), a sensitive and introverted young boy who loses his beloved mother (Barbara Ronchi) in a sudden tragedy. Drawing on his rich fantasy life to help him cope, Massimo grows up into a withdrawn man (Valerio Mastandrea) who is unable to make real emotional connections. 

The film moves between past and present, from reflections on Massimo’s damaged psychology to a more wide-ranging exploration of mortality and maternal love. The sequences featuring young Massimo are the most compelling, drawing on veins of black comedy and horror. Massimo’s demons are specific, and yet familiar: childhood can be a haunting time for any number of reasons. Sweet Dreams captures how innocence and wonder sit alongside fears both rational and irrational.

Thank you very much for inviting me to the screening of Sweet Dreams. . . I think it depicts quite well the Italian society in the late Sixties/early Seventies. – Verena Caris, Deputy Secretary General, Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK

Presumably you had to be there?
Presumably you had to be there?

At our screening, there were ripples of recognition as the story moved through familiar cultural signifiers (including Belfagor, the terrifying character pictured left) and moments from recent history. As one of the non-Italians in the room, I was aware that the film was evoking something very specific for those around me. If our experiences are rooted in the Anglo-American world, it may be easier to take for granted that we’ll see our culture and our lives reflected back to us from the big screen. For others, especially when living abroad, it’s a rarer treat.

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Anyway, thanks to everybody who came along and made it such a great evening! Here’s hoping that this absorbing film is widely seen here in the UK, both by the Italian community and by others

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Sophie Lister

Damaris resources bring films to new audiences, start conversations, and enrich lives. Find out more at www.damarismedia.com Here at the Damaris Film Blog, we publish regular discussion guides to help you make the most of the latest cinema releases.