Thursday, August 04, 2016

Fantasia ’16: Earth is Not Room Enough (short)

It echoes an Asimov title and the Groundhogs’ Space-rock, but the inspiration for this trippy short is much more Sun Ra and a bit of Parliament-Funkadelic. Space is the place and the way to get there is through music—glorious analog music. A hipster crate-digger will try to hitch a ride to the galactic spaceways through the grooves of some ultra-rare LPs in Joe Losurdo’s short film Earth is not Room Enough, which screened during the 2016 Fantasia International Film Festival.

The sight of a box of vinyl records left out with the trash will always stop Sam dead in his tracks, as it would any normal person. In this case, the landlord is happy to be rid of his absconded tenant’s property and even throws in some high-end stereo equipment. It turns out the mysterious Dr. Stitch was working on some bizarre experiments in sound, using the groovy, limited press-run, hand-painted LPs Sam couldn’t wait to spin. Using the missing physicist’s notes as a guide, Sam tries to recreate his weird audio regimen. The results are truly cosmic.

If you know your Sun Ra and related artists, you will flip for EINRE. It looks great, sounds great, and offers enticing hints of a potentially rich and far-ranging original Afrofuturist mythology. It also reminds viewers of the exhilarating feeling you get when you discover a strange and scarce record for little or nothing—and who can’t relate to that.

As Sam the record collector, Sam Porter perfectly captures that indomitable enthusiasm, while Travis Travis instantly intrigues and mystifies as Dr. Stitch (seen via VHS tapes, ‘natch). Christina Tillman’s contribution as the art and production designer is also invaluable, beautifully realizing all that gatefold, analog goodness.

The nostalgia is warm and inviting, while the vibe is funky and otherworldly. Frankly, it’s just all good. Highly recommended as a twelve-minute blast, Earth is not Room Enough had its Canadian premiere at this year’s Fantasia.