“Swimming in Dreamland” Film Premiere at Vern Riffe Center for the Arts


PORTSMOUTH- After welcoming introductory remarks by Shawnee State University President, Eric Braun, local radio personality, Steve Hayes, hosted the film premiere of “Swimming in Dreamland”, Saturday, March 9, 2024 at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. The packed house of nearly 1200 people comprised attendees from West Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and Washington, DC, as well as from a number of cities other than Portsmouth around the State of Ohio, notably Waverly, Mansfield, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

Positive feedback was immediate the night of the Premiere making for a satisfying evening for the filmmakers, John and Nathan Lorentz of Lorentz Productions, and vindication for what was a long six-year creative process.

The story of the film is much more than just good times swimming in a concrete hole filled with water, though of that there is much. Rather, the deep memories of multi-generations of swimmers who came of age and developed a sense of community are explored. And, the film takes an in-depth look into the role that Dreamland played, in common with public pools throughout the U.S., in the issue of civil rights and the actions to desegregate. In addition, Swimming in Dreamland contrasts different cities approach to providing public recreational facilities by exploring the fates of the two sister Dreamland Pools, one in Kenova, WVA and one in Portsmouth, OH.

After the showing of the film, the team hosted a Q&A session with folks lined up and down the aisles to share their experiences at Dreamland Pool whether they be swimmers, or lifeguards, or ticket counter, or other employees, as well as the asking of many penetrating questions directed at the filmmakers.

In 2002, Lorentz Productions produced the documentary, River Voices, an account of the 1937 Ohio River Flood and its effect on Portsmouth. The film focused on Portsmouth, but told a universal story of how communities cope with natural disasters and is still very much alive to the present day to viewers nationally and internationally. It received the Ohio Academy of History 2002 Public History Award.

Another Lorentz Productions film, the 2014 Beyond These Walls: Building Community Through Public Art, about the Portsmouth Flood Wall Murals, won Best Documentary Award in the 2019 Louisville International Festival of Films.

Swimming in Dreamland is made possible by the generous support of The Glockner Family and Shawnee State University, as well as additional support by Neal and Vicky Hatcher, Gary and Michele Miller, Butch and Lyn Stall, Complete Smiles Dentistry, Drs. Michael and Kelly Raies, Portsmouth Vision Center, Chris and Marilyn Lute, The Toleman Family, Tanner Hatcher Real Estate, and Keystone Printing.

For information on digital streaming or DVD copy of Swimming in Dreamland, E-mail: [email protected]

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