Shortfilm with Dance
10 minutes

Cast: Cyndi Williams, Khoa Tien Dang, Gayland Williams, Jacqui Cross-Williams, Nguyen Stanton,
Tuyen Quang Thái, Manuela Rodriguez-Dantzler, Tiffany Nguyen, Gohe Tekeste, Michelle Lê

Writer / Director: Katja Straub
Director of Photography: Huay-Bing Law
Production Designer: Nazanin Shirazi
Editor: Gal Yaron Mayersohn
Choreographer: Ellen Stader 
Costume Designer: Colin Wilkes
Sound Designer: Brian Ramos

Producer Germany: Johanna Aust, FLICKFILM
Producer USA: Todd Ruhnau 
Co-Producer: Filmuniversität Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF
Production funded by BKM and Austin Film Society



Cindy (65) visits Dream Nails to get a manicure from Duc, the young, handsome Vietnamese technician. All Cindy wants is to focus on Duc’s soft touch, yet she’s viscerally aware of the tense, cramped and heavily decorated salon.

A young woman complains about her polish, people argue in hushed voices and others struggle around language barriers. When Duc finally begins the hand massage Cindy’s been waiting for, she melts with pleasure.

Her imagination envelops the room and the consciousness of everyone around her. For a fleeting moment nail technicians and customers become transformed by a surreal togetherness, as they join in a synchronized dance number.


Director’s Note

The idea for DREAM NAILS occurred to me when I got my first manicure in Austin, Texas in March of 2017. I went to a Vietnamese nail salon and it was quite an experience. Aside from the bold color and ornate decorations adorning the space, what struck me most was the slice of humanity found within. On the one hand, there is a rare intimacy between people sitting across the table from one another, but there’s also a palpable coldness, distance and anonymity.

To me, the nail salon embodies a microcosm of society, illustrating the stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings that can often result in prejudice and misrepresentation of different cultures. Ultimately this film is about human connection. In DREAM NAILS, we want to approach these issues in a forthright, yet playful manner. 

DREAM NAILS is set against the backdrop of social and global friction and deals with these issues in a playful manner. The film is about overcoming fear, misunderstanding, and prejudice in order to realize that we are all more similar than we believe.


Visuelles Konzept

DREAM NAILS uses lush production design to invite the viewer into its own world. Color plays a major role. Each customer has her own color coding, which also separates them from each other. Only later during the dance sequence this leads to a sea of colors in which each color becomes part of a whole and adds to the feeling of versatility. 

Camera and editing work reflect the protagonist Cindy’s inner world. At first shots are calm and observational with attention to detail: extreme long fingernails being painted, pearls of sweat glisten on the forehead of a nail practitioner, elaborate earrings rattle with movement. The more chaotic the atmosphere around Cindy becomes, the more it is echoed in camera work and editing.   

Visually DREAM NAILS is inspired by dance films of the 70s and 80s. For example the play of color and dreamlikeness in “The Young Girls of Rochefort” by Jacques Demy or the lush stylization in “Hairspray” by John Waters. 


A huge Thank You to our Kickstarter doners:

Meike Köster, Irene & Kolonat Straub, Majken Rehder, Juliet Dervin, Oliver Weiß, Hilah Johnson, Frances Holliday Alford, Sasche Kubiak, Alexa Wojtas, Javier Bonafont, Neels Kattentidt, David Hartstein, Anna Anders, Lan Chu, Oliver Haffner, Jacon Bricca, Samuel Jørgensen, Leah Manners, Nilou Safinya, Debra J Dodson, Caroline Smith, Sunny Cho, Huay-Bing Law, Ulrike Denninger, Arnaud Obermann, Chad Dawson, Johannes Gauss, Andreas Straub, Chris Ohlson, Rachel Ecklund, Caleb Figge, Shara Lange, PJ Raval, Naiti Gamez, Julie Ann Holden, Kyle Henry, Geoff Marslett, Karina Smigla-Bobinski, Tamar Tessler, Nicole Wolf, Darren Ruhnau, Jeremy Dehn, Meggy Seemann, Deva Burgdorf, Alexander Klepzig, Ariane Bischoff, Almuth Krisko, Elizabeth Jackson, The Bear, Judith Klapper, Lisa Gross, Inadevi Fürstenau-Burgdorf, Chris McInroy, Viola Isenbürger, Zach Morrison, Kara Moody, Karen Kocher, Terry Hiner, Cathy & Ken Bradley