Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sanford ’16: They Will All Die in Space (short)

Working on a Generation Starship is nothing like being a Pullman Car porter. It is about as dead end as you can get. By its nature, it implies expendability. While the future of humanity slumbers in suspended animation, someone has to keep the maintenance up, but it probably won’t be mankind’s best and brightest. Facing a crisis, the Tantalus’s two-man skeleton crew choses to revive a technical specialist to manage the repairs. At least that’s their story, but it is not necessarily the truth, as Alex Talabot soon suspects in Javier Chillon’s Spanish-produced, English language short film They Will All Die in Space (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Sanford International Film Festival.

Apparently, the Tantalus has been damaged by a freak interstellar collision and is now drifting helplessly in space. Atenas and Eberhart wake Talabot, hoping he can repair the navigation and power systems. Such work would be even better suited to his wife’s skill set, but Talabot heeds their cautions against awakening her—and he will be glad he did.

As he proceeds to mend the damaged ship to the best of his abilities, Talabot discovers an alarming number of weirdly kit-bashed quick fixes to the system. They are not the sort of cheap patches he would expect in a ship meant to last for generations. He also grows increasingly alarmed by the suspicious behavior of Atenas and Eberhart.

TWADIS is very impressive on a technical level, combining production designer Idoia Esteban’s gritty, lived-in, Millennium Falcon-esque sets and trappings with Luis Fuentes’ super-stylish black-and-white cinematography. However, as a narrative, it feels more like a condensed episode of a greater narrative than a discrete and self-contained arc. Still, if it is a proof-of-concept short, it should be jolly darned persuasive.

Julio Perillán is also quite convincing as the angst-ridden Talabot. Francesc Garrido and Ben Temple look very much like dodgy astronaut thugs, as well. The suggested implications for human nature are rather pessimistic, but it is still cool to see such a well put-together independent genre short. Highly recommended for science fiction and thriller fans, They Will All Die in Space screens this Saturday (5/28) in Springvale, Maine, as part of this year’s Sanford International Film Festival.