Spling’s Cinematic Journey: A Celebration of Film and the Power of Dreams

The Essence of Dreams: An Anthology of Film Reviews was recently launched at the iconic Labia Theatre in Cape Town. With Barbie mania in the air, the queues were long as moviegoers made their way to the Greta Gerwig film that’s making waves opposite the much-anticipated Christopher Nolan masterpiece, Oppenheimer. Wedged between these two cinematic events was The Essence of Dreams, a book that celebrates these kinds of immersive, world-building and awe-inspiring spectacles.

While the Barbie hordes made it difficult to find the The Essence of Dreams book signing table, people arrived to get their books signed by author, Stephen ‘Spling’ Aspeling who tried to personalise signed copies and engage with attendees. The signing table also turned out to be a registration table and prelude to a private screening of Sing Street.

eod book launch night labia

After everyone got themselves a signed copy of the book, the transition from book signing to screening was relatively swift as Spling changed gear to welcome a cinema of audience members. Spling began his speech in front of a projection of the book and some choice comments by thanking those who contributed to the book and explaining his film choice. While reading the review for Sing Street had been a consideration, the spoiler alert implications redirected him to the book’s introduction, which serves as an overview of the thematic concept behind The Essence of Dreams.

Joined by Toorbos writer-director Rene van Rooyen, it was wonderful to have a filmmaker whose work is featured in the book as part of the audience. Spling went on to thank editor and illustrator Alan Lamprecht, his wife and parents as well as several reviewers for their kind words with Encounters Film Festival director, Mandisa Zitha in attendance.

eod book launch night table

Spling moved from thank yous to explaining the significance of each gift bag item before unleashing a few prizes linked to a white knight chess piece secreted in one of the gift bags and a question relating to a beloved ’80s arcade character. Having fielded a Q&A at the table with guests writing their questions, he plucked a few questions at random, revealing his inspiration for the book and why The Music Never Stopped remains a powerfully tender drama.

A few hijinx to lift spirits and it was onto Sing Street, not Spling Street. A fun-filled, joyous and immersive film experience, it matched the atmosphere of the event and the celebration of a book that’s turned from a dream into a reality. A bucket list item crossed off, this book launch represents 16 years of movie-watching, only featuring films that received an 8/10 or higher for the author. In a previous interview Spling mused that on movie night it’s a great starting point, literally able to flip to a random review to see what’s worth seeing.

eod book launch night 1

Thankfully many of the audience hadn’t seen or even heard of Sing Street making it an excellent example of why The Essence of Dreams could very well become their go-to movie guide and bolt-on movie bucket list. While a bit tough in a places, the infectious spirit and youthful zest of John Carney’s film makes it a crowdpleaser. Add a toe-tapping and nostalgic soundtrack and it’s a big win blending the best of School of Rock with the hard knock life of growing up in Ireland in the 1980s.

Centred on a kid following his dreams, Sing Street tied in quite perfectly with the book and Spling’s journey, having pursued his dream of becoming a movie critic from his high school days. Now that The Essence of Dreams has been published, Spling is hoping it helps him reach a whole new audience. Available as an ebook or paperback on Amazon.com, Spling intends to add an audio book version to the mix and hopefully find a local distributor. More photos from the book launch event.