Saugerties is really the main character in this film,” said Katie Cokinos, the writer and director of “I Dream Too Much,” a film set in Saugerties.
The film was shown at the Orpheum on Friday, Oct. 2 as part of the Woodstock Film Festival. An additional showing is planned for Saturday, Nov. 28 (the Saturday following Thanksgiving) at the Saugerties Public Library.
Eden Brolin stars as Dora, a girl who had just graduated from college. She’s a dreamy sort, fresh out of college. All she knows is she’d like to accompany her best friend on a trip abroad. Instead, she’s stuck at home in suburban New Jersey with a mother who’s urging her not to lose her scholarly momentum and immediately begin law school. While Dora stalls and sulks, her mother tells her a bit of news— her great aunt in upstate New York recently broke her foot dancing. They share a laugh, mixed with admiration, at the idea of such an old woman staying active and injuring herself in such a manner. Then all of sudden, for reasons unstated, Dora announces she’ll go up by herself to help.
But her great aunt Vera (Diane Ladd) doesn’t want her help, which she considers interference. Eventually, they help each other as Vera’s experience and maturity meet Dora’s youthful enthusiasm. In another subplot, Dora helps a new friend — a clerk at Dig Boutique — but only after first alienating her with self-centered behavior.
Unlike most coming-of-age films, there is no romance for the young heroine, other than her daydreams. Cokinos explained that this was to emphasize the maturing process in Dora and the parallel with her great aunt’s revitalization, relationships between women. Record producer Nikki (James McCaffrey), important for the subplot with Dora’s new friend and another regarding Dora’s surreptitious plan to have her great aunt’s diaries published, acts as a sounding board and sometime mentor, but not in any romantic role. “There’s no Mr. Darcy here,” Cokinos said, a reference to Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
The movie was made in winter — snow shows in most of the outdoor scenes, and while Cokinos said she enjoys winters in Saugerties, “I will never make a movie in the winter ever again.” The weather makes outdoor scenes too difficult, she said. However, when asked by an audience member what inspired her in the creation of the film, her first response was, “Saugerties, particularly in winter.” She also cited Jane Austin, in particular the characters who were poor relations at the center of some of Austin’s books.
A major issue in the lives of many people just after college graduation is the choice of career, and this film examines the classic dilemma – money and stability versus passion. Dora’s mother (Christina Rouner) urges her to pursue her career as a lawyer, a career she studied for as an undergraduate. “Where’s the glamour in starving?” she asks. Her aunt urges her to find something she feels passionate about and pursue it, as she acknowledges she is not passionate about the law.
Another theme is finding one’s voice. Dora and Vera encourage each other in this respect, with Dora urging her great aunt to publish a memoir of the time she spent married to a now-legendary writer (whose success, it turns out, was due in no small part to her contributions), while Vera, after finding scraps of paper with doodles and poetry fragments, insists her great-niece read them aloud at the Saugerties Poetry Festival.
The film is Cokinos’s first feature-length film, though she previously worked in other films and produced a short film, “Portrait of a Girl as a Young Cat.”
Cokinos’s husband, Alex Rappoport, was the director of photography and editor for the production.
Most of the film was shot in Saugerties; Dora shops on Partition St., visits the lighthouse, wanders pensively by some falls in the creek, and through the village. This aspect of the film was a delight for attendees, who would whisper and elbow one another in recognition. More than a few were proud to have picked out a Barclay Heights home meant to be in New Jersey. They weren’t fooled by the license plate of the car in the driveway.
Cokinos and her producers are still seeking wider distribution. For now, it’s the film festival circuit -New Orleans, Dallas, New Hampshire.