The documentary “L.A. Dreamers” by Igor Kosenko, a cinematographer based in Los Angeles, shows the story of five Japanese girls who came to L.A. to become hip-hop dancers, to live their biggest dream and to make their passion to their purpose of life. Far away from home and their families they hooked up with a dance company called “MOB” to learn dancing on a professional basis. They have overridden the advices and wishes of their parents and did not go to university or had an average job as expected. The documentary shows an extract of their new life and follows them to their dancing classes and accompanies them in their everyday life as a dancer.
If you try to fit this documentary into the documentary modes of Nichols, you recognize that it is not a typical documentary about their experiences. It is not a journalistic view, moreover it has indications of a fictional short film. The art of filming is very poetic and artistic, added with sequences of interviews the filmmaker had with the girls. On the one hand it is informative and the viewer gains an insight of their feelings, thoughts and dreams. But on the other hand you do not get any information who these girls are, you do not get any names nor do you get detailed background stories. It is not a journalistic documentary which follows their stories through ups and downs. It only emphasizes the pretty side of their emigration and current life in L.A. Obviously it was not always a fun and bright journey, there had to be low points and a lot of problems to face up to. It is a staged and highly planned story that is shown to the viewer and has not a lot to do with the reality.
This documentary could fit into Nichols poetic mode but I think the poetic mode of freelancer Toni de Bromhead, an ethnographic filmmaker, would suit better. In her book Looking Two Ways she criticizes Nichols for his focus on documentary as an analytical discourse. In her point of view, documentaries should be and are mostly cinematic, emotive, expressive and creative while the journalistic view focuses on analysis, information and checkable facts. Although she claims that documentaries can never be objective because there is always a filmmaker who planned it, decided where the main focus should be and how it is edited. The real aim of documentary story telling is filmic delight. Even though documentaries seem to be objective, it is still an artistic and cinematic piece of art and you should not try to fit it into any categories and evaluation schemes.