"Sabine Gruffat's latest feature film is a quietly remarkable essay"
- Michael Pattison, IDFilm

"Nothing less than spellbinding"
- M.Faust, ArtVoice


Director/ Producer Sabine Gruffat is interviewed on Public Television


Ben Sachs, Learning through seeing, The Bleader (blog), May 31, 2012.
Read The Chicago Reader Interview

Choice Cuts, The A.V. Club's Wisconsin Film Festival Planner, April 12, 2012.
Download The Onion article

WiFilmFest2012, Dane 101 blog, April 13, 2012.
Download the Dane 101 interview

Wisconsin Film Festival 2012: I Have Always Been a Dreamer, Isthmus The Daily Page, April 20, 2012.
Download The Isthmus Daily Page Interview

Sabine Gruffat debuts new documentary, ArtsEtc., Badger Herald, Madison, WI.
Download The Badger Herald Interview

Interview with Filmmaker Sabine Gruffat, Director's Cut, Wisconsin Public Television, Madison, WI.


Scoped Michael Pattison, idfilm.net, April 8, 2013.

I Have Always Been A Dreamer, Stephen Dalton, Eye For Film, April 12, 2013.

Multicultural Cinema Stephen Dalton, The National, April, 16, 2013.

I Have Always Been A Dreamer M.Faust (Artvoice feature), , Art Voice,Nov. 15, 2012.

Our Guide to CUFF Ben Sachs (Reader Pick),\Chicago Reader, May 30, 2012.

CineFile Review Jesse Malmed, May 30, 2012.


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I Have Always Been A Dreamer is an essay film about globalization and urban ecology using the examples of two cities in contrasting states of development: Dubai, UAE and Detroit, U.S.A. Within the context of a boom and bust economy, the film questions the history and collective ideologies that shape the physical landscape and impact local communities.

Though these cities represent two different economic eras (Fordist and Post-Fordist), both cities vividly illustrate the effects of economic monocultures and the arbitrary consequences of geopolitical advantage. The film delves into the Industrial history of Detroit in comparison to present- day Dubai. The film serves as a visual documentation of these two cities as indexes of political, cultural and economic change while tracing the ways each city’s development is tied to technologies of communication, production, labor, and consumption.

The portion of the film concerning Dubai depicts a postmodern city in a continual process of being built, and posits Dubai as virtual in the sense that it is artificial, performed and shaped by an increasingly service-based economy driven by tourism. By contrast, the portion of the film depicting Detroit reveals a once shining example of a Fordist city presently in ruins and in the process of being vacated, beleaguered by a failing industrial-based economy vacillating between ideologies of self-preservation and destruction.

The film was shot in Detroit, MI and Dubai, UAE, exploring their landscape through various modes of transport, and includes interviews with local historians, scholars, and artists. The film was produced between 2007 and 2012.

Subject Areas:

Film Studies
Arab-American and Islamic Studies
Global Studies
Middle East
Urban Studies
Urban Planning
American Studies
Comparative Studies



Sabine Gruffat is Assistant Professor of Art at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. She has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wayne State University, and the University of Missouri. She has been making films for over 15 years and her feature films have screened at festivals and museums worldwide including at the Viennale, MoMA, Cinéma du Réel at the Centre Pompidou, Migrating Forms, and The Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival.

Sabine Gruffat is also a studio artist and has also produced digital media works for public spaces as well as interactive installations that have been shown at the Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, Art In General, MoMA/PS1 Contemporary Art Museum, and Hudson Franklin in New York.



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3rd Ecofalante Environmental Film Festival, Sao Paulo, Brasil.
Cinema Planeta, Cuernavaca, MX.
Docucity, Milan, IT.
August 23, Dearest Chicago...,The Nightingale Theater, Chicago, IL.
CineMigrante, Buenos Aires, AR.


February 22nd and 23rd, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Documentary Fortnight 2013, New York, NY.
March 23rd, The Top Secret Space, Gainesville, Florida.
March 27 and 29, Centre Pompidou, Cinéma du Réel, Paris, France.
April 14 and 16th, Bradford International Film Festival, National Media Museum, Bradford, UK.
April 12-18th, Athens international Film and Video Festival, Athens, OH.
April 20th, Indie Grits Film Festival, Columbia, SC.
April 23rd, Varsity Theater, Ackland Film Forum, Chapel Hill, NC.
May 31-June 5, 16th CinemAmbiente Environmental Film Festival, Torino, Italy.
November 6, Viennale, Vienna, Austria.


April 21 2012, World Premiere, Wisconsin Film Festival, Madison, WI.
June 2 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit, MI.
Chicago Underground Film Festival, Chicago, IL.
June 10 2012, Northwest Film Forum, Seattle, WA.
July, 2012, Wisconsin Public Television, Director's Cut,Madison, WI.
September 21-23, Imaging Detroit,Metropolitamn Observatory for Digital Culture, Detroit, MI.
September 27-30th, Dallas VideoFest, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX.
October 12-21st, Antimatter Film Festival, Victoria, BC.
November 1-11th, Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival (CPH:DOX), Copenhagen, DK.
November 16th, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY.


16mm film transferred to HD video
Bluray and HDCAM, surround and stereo mix
TRT : 78 minutes

Directed/ Produced by: Sabine Gruffat

Cinematography: Sabine Gruffat

Sound Design: Sabine Gruffat

Includes Interviews with:
Jerry Herron, George Karyotidis, Mitch Cope, Constance Bodurow, Freda G. Sampson,
Colin Branson, Co-lab Creative, Matt Kelson, Douglas Crawford, Toufic Araman

Additional Camera and Sound Recording:
Bill Brown
Ben Russell

Sound Mix:
Paul Geluso

Nathan Halverson
Stephen Vitiello


Praise from Educators

“A globe-spanning essay on the intermingling forces of expansion and entropy, Sabine Gruffat’s beautiful film gives poetic expression to the conceptual terrain of urban studies and asks from a startling variety of perspectives ‘what is a city now?’.”

-Michael Gitlin, Associate Professor, Dept. of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College - CUNY.

Elegantly composed, thoughtfully constructed I Have Always Been A Dreamer is a rich, meditative, and informative tale of two cities.

-Edward Rankus, Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Communication Studies Department.

"A masterful cinematic essay and a significant addition to our Visual Media library collection."

-Bill Brown, Lecturing Fellow, Arts of the Moving Image, Duke University.

Subject Areas:

• Arts • Architecture • Film Studies • Arab-American and Islamic Studies • Geography • Global Studies • Middle East • Urban Studies • Urban Planning • American Studies • Comparative Studies •

Educational License and Public Viewing DVD

Applies to universities, colleges, museums, corporations and government agencies. Includes public performance and 3-year streaming rights.*
Duration: 78 minutes $295.00

K-12 Edition for Public and High School Libraries

This DVD is licensed for multi-use in public and high school libraries only.*

Duration: 78 minutes $99.00

Questions about DVD orders?

Email us at:


Educational License and Public Viewing DVD Includes:

- Unlimited but site-specific public performance rights
- Feature Film (78 minutes)

*IMPORTANT NOTE: The K-12 Edition is for use in a small K-12 classroom setting ONLY.
If you are planning a large assembly, faculty training, parent screening, or community showing at a K-12 school, then a public viewing license is needed and therefore the $295 Public Viewing Edition must be purchased.

* Are you interested in having Film Director Sabine Gruffat attend your event, either in person or via Skype?

If so, please email us:


Please note there are honorarium fees involved.