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Toronto Film Festival Dailies

The 48th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival takes place Thursday, September 7—17, 2023 in Canada's most vibrant and exciting metropolis, it has become one of the most important film events on the festival calendar.

Showcasing more than 300 films and hosting industryites from around the world, Toronto can "make or break" films looking for international distribution and a chance at Oscar gold. From glitzy red carpet premieres to challenging art films to cutting edge new media, the Festival offers something for every taste.

Past Coverage 2014 2015 - Coverage 2016 in French   English


TIFF 2023 - Sweet Dreams reviewed



TIFF 2023


With director: Ena Sendijarevic


By Emmanuel Itier


Meet Ena Sendijaveric who directed one of the best surprise movie of TIFF 2023: “Sweet Dreams”. This mesmerizing movie follows the journey of the illegitimate son of a Dutch sugar plantation owner who died and living him his Indian ocean island estate. The child was born from the owner’s Indonesian housemaid. This is a visually enchanting movie with an intense dramatic edge. A must see for sure. We were lucky to catch up with Ena Sendijarevic on the eve of her Premiere in Toronto. What a “dream” this director is!


Q: What inspired you to direct this movie?


Ena: I grew up in The Netherlands. As you might know The Netherlands has an atrocious colonialism history. And I wasn’t really aware of this fact when I was growing up. This is not what is being taught at school. But as I grew up directing movies around, I started to find out about this hidden history. I realized it was an important part of our history and that I needed to talk about it. The idea was to raise more awareness about this subject matter. So, I did lots of research and this is how I put together this movie and about this madness that was colonialism. For me, madness is the core of colonialism occupation. This is what I wanted to highlight in ‘Sweet Dreams’.


Q: What were the challenges you faced making this movie?


Ena: The biggest challenge was covid. I started writing this movie four years ago, just before covid times. I spent five months in Indonesia. I was there, writing alone, my script. Then covid started in Asia and I had to go back to Europe, and I had to wait to be able to film this movie. Because of covid we had lots of delays, as you can imagine. But eventually we ended up filming the movie I had in mind. It was also difficult to find the entrance in this subject and the right tone. There are so many movies about colonialism. Most of them are male focused and here it’s more female focused. I tried to focus also on the banality of evil. I didn’t want to oversimplify the concept of “good guy and bad guy”. I wanted to find the complexity in all the characters. I also had to highlight the complicated part of being a victim. I didn’t want to depict a victim only as a saint. I would have to find the humanity as well in the colonialist occupants.  I needed to relate to these characters. These were my biggest challenges.


Q: What is this movie truly about for you?


Ena: I think it’s about the difficulty of having a loving human relation within an oppressive colonialist system. It’s about the lack of love within this environment. It’s a period film but I think there is a bridge to the “here and now” situation we are in. It’s almost a satirical bridge to the here and now. I think people, today, will recognize dynamics that they see around them and within this film. They will be able to recognize these characters as being part of the here and now. The film also raises the question: is colonialism behind us? At the end of the movie there is a new generation that needs to figure out how to solve what is coming next to them. Colonialism is a very difficult heritage.


Q: What does Tiff means to you?


Ena: It means a lot to me as I was here last time with my short film about the absurdity of Bosnian integration in the Netherland. There are similar themes in ‘Sweet Dreams’. It feels so good to be back at Tiff. It’s an important place for the international film community. I’m thankful to be here.






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Contributing editors: Bruno Chatelin 

Laurie Gordon Animaze International Film Festival Le Miaff!
Leopoldo Soto Huatulco Food and Film Festival Director
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