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The Whitsell Auditorium and the Northwest Film Center Equipment Room are closed to the public in an effort to further stem the spread of COVID-19. All classes canceled until further notice. Stay connected to art, film, and more by signing up for our newsletter.

Directed by Larry Bullard, Carolyn Y. Johnson

United States 1978 50 mins. In English

A hybrid film mixing documentary and drama, A Dream is What You Wake Up From is a back-and-forth film detailing the similarities and differences in the experience of three black families in late 1970s New York City. Focused on the intimacies and tribulations of daily life at work, school, and home, the film is a window into survival strategies and day-to-day life in America’s biggest metropolis at a time when the city was experiencing historic lows in terms of development and resourcing. A “fascinating hybrid of documentary and fiction employs a number of strategies to create a complex look at different black American families. As the scene shifts from urban building projects to suburbia, from the present to the past, the filmmakers eavesdrop on intimate kitchen-table conversations, fold in historical re-enactments, drop by community meetings and conduct talking-head interviews. The result is an exhilarating tapestry of voices, some speaking in consort, some resisting consensus.”—Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.