Review: Big Dream at the Transitions Film Festival

12 February 2018

Big Dream is an inspiring and heartfelt documentary that follows the pathways of seven driven young girls chasing after their dream careers in the fields of Computer Science, Technology and Engineering—all fields in which women are seriously underrepresented. These girls face both social barriers and personal hardship while chasing after their dreams, but ultimately through persistence, they overcome these challenges.

The documentary starts off with various news channels and headlines outlining the worrying statistics regarding unequal gender representation within these fields. For example, in the United States, nine out of every 10 leaders in Tech are male. Even former President Obama noted concernedly that “fewer than three in 10 workers in Science and Engineering are women”.

As the film continuously presents these harsh facts, viewers instantly comprehend the gravity of this inexplicable and unnecessary gender inequality that denies females so many amazing opportunities.

In addition to facing gender discrimination in the society, the girls’ personal lives prove challenging. These girls are mostly from developing countries and smaller towns where contemporary technology is very limited. One of the girls lost her mother against a cancer battle during her freshmen year and had to apply for a scholarship to financially support her through college. Another two girls are met with an unsupportive community where they lack the guidance and education to help develop their brilliant tech ideas. Furthermore, one girl had to travel abroad to chase after her dream, forcing her to leave behind her loved ones and comfort zone back home.

To me, however, the most inspiring and memorable story mentioned was Ashana’s one. At an early age, she was homeless, separated from her family and had to drop out of school because of financial issues. The documentary shows her hardships and how she managed to overcome it through a collection of webcam anecdotes. Ashana sought assistance from her seniors she met through the “Big Sisters” buddy programme—a support network she had joined at the age of 12 and, knowing her plight, her buddies voluntarily reached out to her. They helped Ashana raise funds online for her Computer Science tuition fees. She was then able to pursue her dream career after college. It was a miracle for Ashana, and because she had the courage to ask for help, she could achieve remarkable financial support from fellow netizens.

Throughout their lives, these girls sometimes felt uncertain and helpless, not knowing where to go or what their future will look like. Nevertheless, they stand strong, independent and do not blame fate for those hard and miserable times. The girls find ways to help both themselves and their communities shine. This documentary teaches us, even when it seems that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, determination and perseverance can help us push through obstacles. No matter how difficult the world is, with a strong enough will, we can learn, succeed and grow to be a better version of ourselves.

Not only is this documentary emotionally affective and inspiring, it is also informative. It raises awareness about the terrible lack of female representation in the fields of Technology, Science and Engineering, but goes on to provide comfort, assuring us that gender inequality is improving. It shows capable young girls making slight yet impactful transformations in their communities by encouraging more female participation in these largely male-centric career fields. The world is changing; females are becoming increasingly included in what were, and still are, male-dominated professions. Big Dream empowers young girls to integrate into these industries by showcasing the lives of seven brave women as role models that younger generations can follow.


Big Dream is showing as part of the Transitions Film Festival from 22 February—9 March at Cinema Nova, Carlton.

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