Unimaginable Dreams
Still from Unimaginable dreams


Collaborative Cinema
Historical Memory

How to Cite

Jamili, M., Nugent, B., & Barbanel, D. (2019). Unimaginable Dreams. Journal of Anthropological Films, 3(02), e2823. https://doi.org/10.15845/jaf.v3i02.2823


Written and directed by Marzia Jamili, a Hazara refugee now living in Sweden, Unimaginable Dreams is an auto-ethnographic essay film that traces Marzia’s last days in Athens, Greece. Blending documentary and fiction, Marzia casts her best friends to recreate magically real versions of her dearest memories of Athens as she delivers a cutting address to Afghanistan, in which she tells the sea about her broken homeland.


This film project seeks to demonstrate the possibilities of collaborative filmmaking as a methodology, particularly in response to the limitations of etic observational approaches in migration research and the lack of refugee voices in public discourse. Through reenactment and Marzia’s epistolary narrative, Unimaginable Dreams resurfaces notions of belonging and citizenship within the imagination, weaving together oneiric and real geographies situated in the past and future. Facing perpetual displacement and public erasure, the film medium offers a declarative space of visibility in Athens, where its maker articulates rights and desires denied by the state.


Unimaginable Dreams is the first production by the Melissa Network's Film Club, a collaborative program cofounded by Brittany Nugent and Dove Barbanel that challenges hegemonic representations of migrant women by empowering members to reclaim the gaze and create narratives of their own. A creative group of women from Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Kenya, Nigeria and Ethiopia share diverse perspectives to analyze their favorite movies, learn filmmaking skills and collaborate on original productions that add urgent personal nuance and depth to migration storytelling.


Copyright (c) 2019 Marzia Jamili, Brittany Nugent, Dove Barbanel

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