Sunday, March 26, 2017

BUFF ’17: The Golden Chain (short)

You could call Cyin a Gödel galaxy. All known principles of science and logic break down within its high-density mass. It is more like a different dimension than a galaxy within our universe, because we can never truly understand or perceive reality as it exists inside. Rather understandably, Cyin represents an almost existential challenge for researchers on a far future Nigerian space station in Adebukola Bodunrin & Ezra Clayton Daniels’ animated Afrofuturist short film, The Golden Chain (trailer here), which screens tonight during the 2017 Boston Underground Film Festival.

Yetunde cautions her young colleague not to impose her own personal meanings onto the great mystery of Cyin. All they can do as scientists is record data from the event horizon. She chastises with conviction, perhaps to convince herself. Indeed, she seems to be exhibiting signs of professional frustration and personal depression. Her earth-bound lover Andre tries to reach out through an interstellar avatar-based method of communication that incorporates tactile elements, but she evades and stonewalls rather than reveal her potentially cosmos altering plans.

Golden Chain is a short film, but it has some big ideas. In fact, it probably could have used more time to develop its cosmic themes and establish the Afrofuturist imagery (which seems to just pop up in the climatic sequence). In just thirteen minutes, they do an incredible amount of world building. Still, you could say Bodunrin & Clayton leave viewers wanting more (and yes, time is money when it comes to independent film production). There is no question Golden Chain could be fleshed out and expanded into a feature length film, but it is the sort of concept-driven science fiction that lazy critics and fan sites too often ignore.

Regardless, this is a wickedly smart film that feels remarkably up to date with respects to physics, astrophysics, mathematics, propositional logic, and critical theory. Highly recommended for fans of cerebral sf, The Golden Chain screens today (3/26) during the Get the Balance Right shorts program at this year’s BUFF (and be sure to stay for the terrific Dave Made a Maze).