Skip to main content

DREAM GIRLS

UK, 1993 (MIFF 1994, Documentaries)

Director: Kim Longinotto, Jano Williams

The all-singing, all-dancing, Takarazuka Revue is one of Japan's foremost musical extravaganzas, with lascivious sets, classically romantic Broadway style shows and an all female cast. The stars of the show, the young women chosen to play the 'male' leads, attain the status of pop icons with thousands of fanatical fans showering them with gifts and acclaim. Even with two shows a day every day of the week, tickets are impossible to come by, and in every seat in the theatre there sits their wildly adoring audience: women.

Kim Longinetto's Dream Girls is a strange delight. On the surface it is an entertaining waltz through another, often unfathomable culture, but beneath the sequins, feathers and Brylcream, the film skirts around the nature of sexual identity and the contradictory tensions that face young women in Japan today.

The Takarazuka school accepts only forty applicants a year, and in exchange for a chance to act, look and behave like 'ideal' young men and create fantasies of undying passion, the young students submit to a rigorous and bizarre tutelage. Their time at the top is short: stars are forced to retire after two years, to make way for the new contenders. This along with the pressure to marry by the age of twenty-five (you must be single, indeed not even be dating, to be a Takarazuka headliner), ensures that the dream may be real, but it never lasts.

Dream Girls is about glamour and escape but it also reflects that the prism of social control has more facets than a dancehall mirrorball.

See also...

HOLD ME TIGHT, LET ME GO

“The school seemed to be a metaphor for what's wrong with boys and young men in society. I'm sure that's why the impact of going to that school was so strong for me.” - filmmaker Kim Longinotto ... More »

ROUGH AUNTIES

In the chaos of post-apartheid South Africa, one group of women work tirelessly to better the lives of those most in need. ... Fearless, feisty and resolute, the 'Rough Aunties' are a remarkable ... More »

PINK SARIS

"I am the messiah of women! I am more powerful than the police!" - Sampat Pal ... Meet the Gulabi Gang, a group of women dressed in defiantly pink saris, railing against India's patriarchal caste ... More »

DARKER SIDE OF BLACK

Gangsta chic, violence and nihilism, the hard edge of Rap and Ragga increasingly dominates the image of black popular culture. Director Isaac Julian (Looking For Langston, Young Soul Rebels) and the ... More »

BLUE

Challenging British director Derek Jarman's final major work has been compared in visual execution to Warhol's Sleep and Empire State. Where it outstrips them both is in the meticulously crafted and ... More »

WARRIOR MARKS

Pratibha Parmar (Khush, A Place Of Rage) joins with author Alice Walker (The Color Puiple, Possessing The Secret Of Joy) in a moving exploration of the cultural and political issues surrounding the ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director