Dreams of the Dead

A first-person journey propelled by memory and dreams.

When the filmmaker’s grandmother dies a sudden and traumatic death, the house and small farm that had been the emotional hub of the family becomes a portal to the past. But suburban development is encroaching and the house is sold.

With its demolition looming, the filmmaker takes us on a compelling journey through grief and transformation.

Creative team

Writer: Marlene Rodgers
Directors/producers: Marlene Rodgers, Franco Pante

Filmmakers’ statement

In Dreams of the Dead, we are seeking to capture some magic – magic that reveals the meaning hidden within the objects and places that surround us, making us feel that every moment of our own histories is simultaneously present, that nothing that we love can ever really be lost.

The film began with a box of negatives found in the house that Marlene’s grandparents, Baka and Dido, had lived in since immigrating from Croatia in 1938. The photos, taken on a Brownie camera, documented the family’s life on their two-acre farm in a Vancouver suburb. It was a place that, for Marlene, seemed to exist outside of time. Baka and Dido kept sheep, they had a wine press and a smoke shack. Laundry was done on a ringer washer.

When Baka died suddenly and traumatically from a fall, her death presaged another loss: the loss of the farm.

Suburban development had been circling the property for years; when the farm was sold and the house slated for demolition, the prospect of this loss was daunting for the family. We decided to film the demolition, and years later, we have put together this personal essay about how grief binds us to places and material objects that embody all we have loved and lost.

Dreams of the Dead has allowed us to think deeply about the experience of loss. The tension between our instinct to hold on to the past and the need to embrace life’s transience is a fundamental part of our experience as humans. We hope audiences will enjoy being part of this very personal exploration and invite you to participate in The Memory Project on our website.

About Marlene Rodgers and Franco Pante

Marlene Rodgers and Franco Pante

Marlene and Franco make films driven by their personal passions, while working in feature film, television and short film – Marlene as a writer and story editor and Franco as a picture editor.

Marlene wrote and produced the award-winning dramatic short Foxy Lady, Wild Cherry which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and sold in multiple territories, and attended the TIFF Talent Lab with her feature script Skin to Skin. Dreams of the Dead is her first film as a director.

Franco Pante is an award-winning editor whose credits include the CTV television feature Elijah and the CBC series Arctic Air. He previously directed the documentary Blood Makes the Grass Grow about conscientious objectors during the Gulf War.

8 comments

  1. Ann Kovic

    Absolutely amazing. Such memories

  2. Kerry

    Your story was put together with so much thought and love….I really enjoyed watching it. I have shared it on “Richmond’s Changing Neighbourhoods.”

  3. Such a beautiful and timeless piece! Had me drifting through my own pieces of the past. Really great! Thank you for the journey.

  4. Wow, beautiful film! it was long ago that I did the photo printing… some films are worth waiting for! congrats to you both, and you’re both looking good!

    • Thank you so much Edie, and for all the images you brought to life that are so integral to the film. Hope to see you sometime in Toronto or Vancouver. xo

  5. Nancy

    congrats you two!!! When and how can I see the movie, please? xx. I’ll be posting a memory soon.

    • Thanks, Nancy! The film will be live on this site on Monday – can’t wait for you to see it! xo Please share the link on social media, if you’d like to! 🙂

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