Where does the dream begin and reality end? In Dreaming Arizona, this is the question both for the central figures and for the viewer. Known for his staged documentaries, Danish director Jon Bang Carlsen has five American teenagers from a small town in Arizona reenact their own lives—past, present and future.
Without commentary, the scenes move from clearly staged situations to sections in which the young people talk about their own lives, feelings and impactful events. They also talk to each other, and when arguments occur it’s unclear whether they are real or acted.
The line between fact and fiction is blurred all the more by the dreamy atmosphere Carlsen creates with poetic camerawork, lighting, music and shots of Arizona’s photogenic landscapes. The film is about the transition from childhood to adulthood, seeking and finding one’s own new identity, and getting over traumas in the process.