Unimaginable Dreams


  • Marzia Jamili Director, Writer
  • Brittany Nugent Producer
  • Dove Barbanel Producer




Migration, Greece, Collaborative Cinema, Historical Memory, Ethnofiction


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.

Author Biographies

Marzia Jamili, Director, Writer

Marzia Jamili is a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, currently residing in Sweden.  An early member of the Melissa Network, Marzia was a vocal human rights activist in Athens, Greece. She has delivered speeches to the United Nations Council of Refugees, the Hellenic Parliament, The Afghan Community in Greece and The World Hazara Council.  Having missed out on a formal education for most of her life, she plans to study politics at university and work in Parliament, advocating for change in Afghanistan.

Brittany Nugent, Producer

Brittany Nugent is a Chicago-based filmmaker and researcher who holds a MA degree in Visual and Media Anthropology from Freie Universität Berlin. She is a cofounder of the Melissa Network Film Club. Her collaborative film productions have screened at the Sundance Film Festival, the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival and the Anthology Film Archives.

Dove Barbanel, Producer

Dove Barbanel is a writer, filmmaker and teacher of English Literature at the French Lycée in Athens, Greece. He is the cofounder and current programmer of the Melissa Network Film Club. His editorial work on migration in Greece has been published in the New York Times and Huffington Post. He holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Still from Unimaginable dreams




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