Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Documentary on How Blind People Dream

What was the last dream you had? Most likely, the first thing that comes to mind is an image since, for most of us, dreams are very visual. Have you ever asked yourself what dreams are like for any of the 39 million people in the world that have never seen or have lost their vision?

Intrigued by this question, Brazilian director and producer Amanda Sayeg is developing a documentary about this topic. She has been studying dreams and blindness for about a year and "it has been a fascinating process. I've been reading about dreams my whole life, trying to make some sense out of the crazy dreams I always had, but it wasn't until about a year ago that I became interested in learning more about the dreams of people that see and feel the world differently, particularly the blind."

For the documentary, Sayeg has been interviewing people that were born blind or have lost sight at different ages in their lives. She says, "The interviews have been the best part of the process of trying to understand how our complex minds work by exploring the similarities and differences between interviewees. For example, a 50 year old man that lost his vision when he was 25 still very much dreams visually, but when he is awake he says he 'sees more now' than he used to when he was sighted because he now takes time to 'smell the roses.'  It IS also very interesting that, in his dreams, this man still sees himself and others as they were when he lost his sight. Anyone new that he has met after becoming blind, including his wife, only appears as a body in his dreams. Another interviewee was diagnosed when he was 3 years old and, surprisingly, he can basically see everything in his dreams. I would have thought that by losing vision at such a young age the dreams would be closer to someone that has never seen - that's how much our brains store when we are young without us even noticing it." In contrast to those who have lost sight after birth, "Other interviewees who were born completely blind do not see images in their dreams. This was somewhat expected but it is still very interesting to me that their dreams consist of many other sensory experiences - hearing musical melodies, feeling the sand on a warm day, hearing screams from a murder, and smelling blood. The interviewees had varying levels of optimism regarding their blindness, but one commonality was that they all took refuge in their dreams."

"Our dreams are very tied to our reality and how we experience life." She goes on to say, "At the end of the day, this is about bringing people together. I think we can all learn a lot by putting ourselves in someone else's shoes and experiencing the world through their point of view," and she believes films are the most powerful way to do this. "Films, a documentary in this case, are meant to take you out of your reality and rethink the world around you, and to me this one is about connecting with the millions of impaired people through a creative and unusual narrative."

The Documentary will be screening at different festivals before its release in January of 2019.


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