Dreams, Drooms, Dromes



Dreams, Drooms, Dromes is a feature-length experimental documentary that examines precarity and community in America through a series of portraits at the event known as the Rainbow Gathering. My film reimagines this countercultural festival as a psychedelic trip to another planet. Audio interviews with Rainbow participants are brought to life through knit finger puppets of animals with digitally composited human eyes and mouths. The puppets inhabit alien-looking landscapes of tiny lichens and fungi. As these characters share their stories in a series of vignettes, a picture begins to emerge of an intentional community where folks are trying, however imperfectly, to put their ideals of good citizenship into practice.

Part collectivist project providing food for the masses, part psychedelic festival, the Rainbow Gathering (no connection to present-day LGBTQ connotations) is a free yearly event that started in 1972 out of hippie idealism and now draws thousands of people who camp together in a national forest. They build soup kitchens, tap springs with water filtration systems, and generally create a place where one can combine volunteerism with raucous, drug-fueled partying. In recent years, the Gathering has increasingly become a refuge for unhoused folks, teenage runaways, those struggling with addiction or freshly released from prison — in short, for Americans who are falling through the nation’s social safety net. The film consists of sixteen portraits in which participants share stories of surviving — and thriving — on the margins, whimsical metaphysical musings, and the fiercely inclusive spirit that makes the Rainbow Gathering such a vibrant, complicated and uniquely American utopia.

This film continues the exploration central to my practice — to illuminate current issues from a fresh perspective by blurring the boundaries between observation and imagination, outer and inner world. My strategy is to lure viewers with seductive or playful imagery while introducing counterpoints that complicate the meaning. My aim is to reignite our capacity for wonder and for connection — an important undertaking in our increasingly polarized world.


Key Personnel:

Denise Iris
Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor, Colorist

Denise Iris makes experimental films that reclaim the power of attention by blurring the boundaries between observation and imagination. She works at the intersection of fiction and documentary, contemplation and narrative. Denise’s films have been presented at the Museum of Modern Art in NY, broadcast on PBS, and screened internationally in Europe and the Americas. They were awarded a Silver Spire at the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Critics Prize at the Dakino International Film Festival, a Director’s Choice Award at the Black Maria Film and Video Festival, and 1st Prize in the Experimental category at the UFVA Conference. Iris’s work has been supported by numerous fellowships and grants, including NYFA, NYSCA, the Jerome Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, as well as residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco Center (Italy), Djerassi, Millay, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and others. Denise earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Brown University and an M.F.A. from Columbia University and also attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Born and raised in Romania, Denise teaches at Vassar College. Before joining academia, Denise worked as an Editor and Colorist in television. Clients included Oprah, CBS, MTV, Lifetime, A&E, and the SYFY channel.

Nate Dorr
Digital Effects Artist

Brooklyn-based artist Nate Dorr received his M.F.A. from Hunter College. His work has been shown at festivals such as Doc NYC, Ji.hlava, Alchemy, Antimatter [media art], Prismatic Ground, Cosmic Rays, Brainwash, Rockaway Film Festival, Copenhagen Architecture Festival, and Imagine Science. His installations have been presented at the Queens Museum, the Staten Island Museum, Old Stone House, the Seaport Museum, Flux Factory, Works on Water, and Radiator Gallery. Nate has also operated a neuroscience lab, documented the DIY music scene, and curated multiple film festivals.

Tom Paul
Sound Designer and Mixer

Two-time Emmy Award winning re-recording mixer and sound designer Tom Paul has supervised and mixed many celebrated films, include the Academy Award winning The Fog of War and Born Into Brothels. Other notable films include: Junebug, Palindromes, The Baxter, The King, and U2 360, the largest selling concert DVD of all time. Tom won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Mixing on Joe Berlinger’s Under African Skies, and another for Best Sound Editing on Cartel Land. He served as president of the Jury for the feature competition at IDFA in 2016. Tom is a supporter of Denise Iris’s work, having mixed two of her previous films. He is excited to contribute to this project.