Kim Longinotto's stark documentary "Dreamcatcher" follows the work of advocate-activist Brenda Myers-Powell, a former prostitute who works with women and young girls in schools, prison and on the streets to deter them from the life of sexual exploitation and drugs — a life that she endured for nearly 25 years.
Patrolling the streets at night in a Dreamcatcher Foundation van, Myers-Powell seeks out young prostitutes and offers them condoms, a shoulder to cry on and a lifeline when they are ready. What she does so brilliantly and tirelessly is simply listen to these women, and believe them. The film itself mimics that approach, allowing harrowing stories of rape and abuse to come pouring forth uncensored, unvarnished and raw.
These stories are hard to hear, but Myers-Powell demonstrates that bearing witness and testifying are key to recovery and healing, as are unconditional love and a belief that no one is past redemption.
Her own story is slowly revealed as she incorporates people from her past into her present work. Although the legacies of generational violence and systemic failure seem overwhelming at times, Myers-Powell soldiers on, drawing strength in her ability to achieve small victories, to help one woman or girl at a time.
While "Dreamcatcher" lays bare some of the horrific violence and victimization that many women face, the film is ultimately hopeful, a testament to the strength and resilience that can be found in sisterhood.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour and 44 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.