FUTURESTATES shorts are film made by directors predicting the future of America and the world. These films may not take place in the near future, but they deal with conflicts that will impact our future generations. While they may be fantastical, many of them seem very realistic in what could happen. The majority of these shorts are made to make the future seem bleak, without hope or faith, and unappealing.
Usually I am not a fan of futuristic films, but both of the seasons for FUTURESTATES did such a good job with engaging me as a viewer and holding my attention throughout by making it seem very realistic. The characters in all these films were very easy to identify with. Most of them were middle class Americans that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere they were placed. There was a reoccurring theme in the first season of making it to the “other side”. This is important because usually America is portrayed as the greener side of the yard, but these films shed a different light. That was not the case here.
The first film in the first season was ” Fallout,” directed by Ben Rekhi. This film which was shot in live action, was then turned into black and white animation. The story of a man, Damien, seeking his love after a disastrous nuclear bomb was quite an emotional one. Each shot was focused on the characters emotions, whether it be the main characters or people in the background. Eventually the evacuation brings them together as they try to get away from a bomb that will neutralize them. Towards the end, once they are hit with the bomb, green light washes over them and they are neutralized and now have the means to start a better life and new life for them. Even though, the couple was battling demons of their own, they figure that their relationship is worth fighting for because it could leave an any moment, which is what happened to the city.
I feel like this film was one of the less futuristic films, but it still covered the main idea of nuclear weapons. They cause so must distress and displacement. The city was somewhat symbolic to the couples relationship. It was destroyed by a bomb, like theirs was destroyed by constant fighting, but in the end the neutralization not only allowed for the city to rebuild but also the relationship as well.
The second film of the season was “Mister Green,” directed by Greg Pak. In this film global warming has become a reality. Rivers have overflown and the temperature rises in the middle of December. Now it is the job of the Mason Park to tell the public of the problems the world is facing because scientists could not fix global warming before it started. Once meeting with an old friend, Mason. After their meeting he discovers he has become an experiment in which the nature of the human race has changed. This film has a very powerful message. For one to start a change, one must become a change. Throughout the film Mason was saying that not enough was done, but he also didn’t have power to change anything himself. By changing his genetic make up to lower his carbon footprint, he could make a difference in the world but getting people to try and change. It was interesting to see that he became sort of plant-like in the sense that he needed a lot of water to survive and carbon dioxide. This film definitely put into perspective the amount of time and energy that needs to be present in a change cannot happen with out the person becoming the change.
The next film was “PIA,” directed by Tanuj Chopra. This film is about a couple, Syama and Rakesh, who seem to be on the right track in terms of happiness, when Rakesh suddenly dies and Syama decides to donate his organs to the government. The government, which makes robots named PIA to go around and do service jobs, puts Rakesh’s organs in a PIA who eventually gets found while entering the black market. This film is quite interesting in the fact that the film is about government made robots. To some it might seem like a far out thought, but it is something that has crossed my mind from time to time. It was interesting to see how these robots are made to not have any emotions, their movements are not fluid, they squeak and make noise, so why was it that the PIA that contained Rakesh’s organs had emotion and memories. I think that there is something to be said about this film and the comment that it makes about human emotion being even greater than machinery. Not that robots are necessarily good, but in this situation, it gave Rakesh a chance to visit his daughter again, even if it wasn’t in his human form. I believe that is a very strong message.
” The Plastic Bag,” was next, directed by Ramin Bahrani. This film discussed the journey of a plastic bag from it’s perspective about a relationship with a human who he calls his maker. This film was quite interesting because it breathed life to something so normal and mundane in our life. A plastic bag to me has never had any feelings, but this film certainly gave it human characteristics. His whole journey is made to find his human but in the end, returns to the ocean, where he could blend in with the wildlife and belong. The way in which the film was shot also gave the bag human qualities. The scenes usually had the bag drifting through the air which added a lot of movement to the film as well, which was nice. Overall the film was nice to look at, and entertaining to watch, but I felt that it didn’t really have much to do with the theme of the FUTURESTATES shorts.
” Play” directed by David Kaplan and Eric Zimmerman, was an interesting take on virtual reality. In this film there is no distinguished line between what is real and what is a game. I mean it would be nice to reset reality when things go bad, but at the same time it will become boring, which I think the film points out. It seems as if in each layer the players are trying to reach an exit point, but once they are close to leaving the virtual world, they end up continuing on to the next level. It seems as if the film isn’t so much criticizing technology itself, but the relationship that people have with technology and their obsession with it. The really great thing about this film is that it has really good transition from character to character. It gives a sense that each character can penetrate the layer of the other and everyone is interconnected. Again resembling technology. Here is a section describing the film from the FUTURESTATES website,
“Play has the structure of a puzzle, and is not meant to resolve into a single explanation or interpretation. Rather, the film is a meditation on our present day of hyperconnectivity and information overload, using videogames as the metaphor for the very human search for meaning and identity.”
“Seed” directed by Hugo Perez deals with the seed corporations and a boy scout-esque group called the Sprouts sworn to protecting genetically modified seeds before anything else in their lives. It is set in a time after world famine and riots, so the seed company is serious about the seeds becoming contaminated with bad seeds. Juan the main character is quite an interesting character. He is entirely devoted to the Sprouts, because he has lost his mother in a food riot. You would think that he would do anything to protect his father because he is the only thing that is left, but he doesn’t. It seems that his father was illegally dealing with bad seeds and Juan is torn between being devout to the Sprouts or being loyal to his father. To me, it seems as if Juan makes the wrong decision at the end. I would never turn on my family, but then after thinking about it, Juan sees the Sprouts as his family. The leader takes care of him and to him, he feels like he is making a difference in the world by keeping all the seeds well. I can see why he decided to turn his father in, but I don’t think he will eventually realize the gravity of his mistake.
“Silver Sling” directed by Tze Chun is a film about futuristic surrogacy in which the period of carrying the babies becomes three months instead of nine. Although this film is set in the future, it could definitely be something that happens currently. Lydia, a Russian immigrant, decides to go through with this process in hopes of making more money to get her brother to the United States. Lydia finds comfort in her nurse who allows her to see that there are more options for making money then to sacrifice ever being able to have children again. This film is something that is always going to be relevant. People sell themselves everyday now to surrogacy for money. Whether the birth is accelerated or not, the issue still exists today, especially with the lower class. There was one line the the film that really stood out to me. ” ..In a world where you shouldn’t have to wait for anything.” That quote stuck out to me because that is that way some things are today. Everything is so fast paced, and it could only get worse to the point where people don’t have the patience to wait the normal nine months to have a child. If this becomes a reality, it would be very upsetting.
“Tent City” directed by Aldo Velasco is about a man working at an eviction agency which is a government agency that evacuates people from their homes and sends them to live in Tent City. This film was interesting in the way that it paralleled the story that Matthew told his son, Ivan, to his real life. Overall the film is very dull in setting. Their house, although taken, still seems vacant and empty. The black and white stills from the story also seem empty as well, with works with the type of life they are living. It is sad to see that although Matthew does not enjoy his job, he does it for his family without knowing that they don’t agree with his job either. This film really put into perspective the fact of doing something you love no matter what. Despite the fact that Matthew lost mostly everything in the end, he still had his family together. They could embark on a new journey, whether it be good or bad because at least they had each other.
” The Other Side” directed by Amyn Kalderali is a film about a futuristic barren town in which a family of three tries to escape from. Out of all the shorts from the first season this was my favorite. This film mostly had to do with immigration between the United States and Mexico. While mostly the United States complains about immigrants from Mexico crossing over, this film inverts that and says that in the future, Mexico will become the better place to live. We never see the perspective of Mexicans and how they view American’s coming into their territory it was a fresh take on the matter. While this didn’t make Mexico seem like the nicest of places, towards the end of the film ( criticizing Americans not bothering to learn Spanish) it is exactly the way the United States is treating Mexico right now. This was a very refreshing film that definitely put into perspective the United States relationship with Mexico.
” The Rise” by Garret Williams is about a elderly couple that has nothing left in the house that they built, so they decide to sell it. When a younger family comes by offering a price, the owner becomes unwilling to sell. Throughout the whole film there are ocean sounds which make the neighborhood seem like a beautiful beach town, which clashes with everything the characters are staying. They make the place seem deserted. This film seems to comment on the older generation versus the younger generation. While the elderly are eager to leave the town they are worrisome of leaving their house, while the younger family is eager to move into the deserted neighborhood, even in the destructed condition that it is ( under water). This film was quite emotional and the shots throughout showed that very well. The use of closeups and perspective shots made the whole feel of the film come together.
And finally, the last film of the season was ” Tia and Marco” directed by Amie J. Howell. This film was about a woman’s day on boarder patrol service in which she encounters a young immigrant boy breaking into her house. This film was one of the more futuristic feeling films. Every thing had a manual, and there weren’t many things that weren’t mechanized in her house. Everything seemed to be owned and run by the government because it was mandatory to service the border patrol. I think it was important to see that although Tia tired to fight it, she became attached to the immigrant and felt a connection with him despite the fact she was arresting immigrants a day earlier. I think it was important that we know she was pregnant. It especially made sense when Marco asked if Tia could lie to the border patrol and say she was his mother, because I feel like that made her more sympathetic to him since she had taken care of him the night before. It ended kind of sad, she never properly got to save Marco and shed have to live with that for the rest of her life.
For more information on the shorts click HERE !