Writer-director Philippe McKie is Canadian by way of Montreal but has lived in Japan for over a decade. A multidisciplinary artist, he has worked in the fashion industry and as a DJ in Tokyo clubs, both of which inform Dreams on Fire, which had its North American debut at the Fantasia Film Festival.
The Premise: Yume moves to big city Tokyo in order to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer. Success is not exactly immediate, so we see her flit between street dance competitions, hip hop classes, anything likely to get her closer to her dreams. But her more imminent need for survival has her chasing cash into clubs where the girls aren’t necessarily dancing. It may not ultimately go on her resume, but Yume is certainly going to learn a lot about herself.
The Verdict: Rhythmic editing really draws us into Tokyo’s underworld, full of unrealized dreams and seedy potential, its lurid lights and colours casting an ominous glow on our protagonist and her compatriots. Bambi Naka is lovely as Yume, clearly a talented dancer in her own right, but willing to stretch and pour herself into the character. Director McKie is perhaps a bit style over substance, but the aesthetic is faultless and the film is never boring.