HOTEL OF DREAMS was selected for the Silver Wolf Competition at IDFA Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam 2005.
After 25 years in Europe, Jeannot returns to his native Senegal to realise his childhood dream of building a HOTEL in the heart of the coastal village of Popenguine. The village has been subjected to foreign overfishing and drought. There is need for economic development - but is tourism the answer? Opinions differ. Values are put to the test.
Although Jeannot (Jean Marie Da Sylva) wants co-operation and development he is a changed man after 25 years in Europe and his dream of "returning home" is hard to realise. It is not easy to build a hotel, encourage the tourists to come and to become part of the reality he left long ago.
In Popenguine they say that "If you don't come to us then we won't come to you". Karim the schoolteacher is critical of the hotel and the negative consequences of tourism. Birane the taxi driver sees the potential and tries to encourage dialogue.
BLACK and WHITE are set in motion in Jeannot's soul and in the little community, which is subjected to the entry of global tourism.
When HOTEL OF DREAMS was finished, the film's director Helle Toft Jensen returned to Popenguine to show the film on the village square.
Dir. Helle Toft Jensen, Senegal / Denmark, 2005; 59 min.
As a young man, the now 45-year-old Jeannot left his native Senegal to try his luck in Europe. Initially he worked as a dishwasher in a bar, but when he fell in love and married a wealthy Belgium woman, his life Changed completely.
25 years later, Jeannot's marriage and life in Europe are over and he decides to return to native Senegal to realize a childhood dream: building a HOTEL in a heart of the coastal village of Popenguine. After being absent for nearly a quarter of a century, Jeannot wants to become and to be seen as the proud African entrepreneur in his homeland. After months of hard work, the hotel's sophisticated construction is completed. As a final touch Jeannot places on the wall portraits of Bob Marley and Martin Luther King, his two idols. Jeannot's high expectations are set in motion, but tourists don't come. Month after month the situation remains the same.
Feeling misunderstood and rejected by the village and desperate to pay back bank loans, Jeannot starts questioning his return. He recognizes the difficulties of adjusting to a new reality, and examines his already Westernized identity as he struggles to blend in with the community.
In the end, Birane, the local taxi driver who brings tourists to the village and wishes for the hotel to succeed, volunteers to set up a meeting between Jeannot and the village council. The parties move a step closer together, sparking new hopes for Jeannot's dream project to get realized.
HOTEL OF DREAMS is a thoughtful, delicate and observant film that reflects on issues of a complex modern identity, globalization, and moral values. At the same time, it is also a moving personal story of an African man's journey back home after a long time in the white European society.
Skillfully directed and cinematographed by Helle Toft Jensen, the film unmistakably has a co-author, Jeannot himself. Beautiful tracks by Senegalese music sensations Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal adds to films' charm.
Director : Helle Toft Jensen
Producer Signe Byrge Sørensen
Editor : Niels Pagh Andersen
Image and Sound : Helle Toft Jensen, Serigne Dramé, Jean Diouf
Line Producer : Fatoumata Kandé Senghor
Sound Design : Bjørn Vidø
Assistance : Amadou Sène, Abdou Aziz Fall, Korthe Lund
Participants : Jean Marie Da Sylva, Abdou Karim Ndiaye, Birane Faye
Thanks to all participants in Popenguine and Bruxelles.
Production SPOR MEDIA Co-production NDR / Arte - YLE
Produced in co-operation with TV 2 / Denmark - RTBF - ETV - TSR
Produced with support from The Danish Film Institute The European Commission - DG Development - DCCD - Danish Ministry of Education - Danida
Jeannot is afkomstig uit Popenguine, een klein dorp vlakbij Dakar. Nadat hij meer dan 20 jaar in België heeft verbleven, beslist hij naar zijn geboortedorp terug te keren om er zijn droom waar te maken: een hotel bouwen en exploiteren. Maar na zijn lang verblijf in Europa wordt hij niet langer als één van hen beschouwd.
Helle Toft Jensen, Danmark, 2005, 55 min
Ny dansk dokumentarfilm om en europæiseret afrikaner, der vender tilbage til sit land for at realisere sin barndomsdrøm: at bygge et stort turisthotel.
Instruktion: Helle Toft Jensen
Danmark 2005. 58.30 min. Digibeta (16:9) Fransk og wolof m. danske undertekster.
Produktion: SPOR MEDIA
Tilladt for alle
(Vises på TV2 Danmark senere på året.
DVD-Distribution til skoler, foreninger og biblioteker: Det Danske Filminstitut)