Hotel Of Dreams
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 the 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 a 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 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.