I didn’t turn up quite so ridiculously early for my second day at the festival, partly by design, partly because I travelled in to London with friends and partly because the trains were utterly screwed. Still, I grabbed a nice veggie thali at Govindas (I’m not veggie, but still like veggie food) and then hurried down to the venue for film #3
Film 3 – Sol
My first film of the day was Sol – based around the “Sol Invictus” challenge, in which several teams of academy students from various colonies get dumped (via “slipgate”) on a random unknown world with equipment to set up a camp and study the heavens. Their goal: be the first to locate sol and send a message requesting pickup. The winning team get to go on to join the ruling class. The implication is that it’s very much a dog-eat-dog kind of contest, and that some of the teams are not above just killing the others to ensure they win.
Of course, things don’t go entirely to plan. The film opens with an accident at the slipgate. Virtually none of the competitors (or their equipment) make it through – and it’s outright stated that they probably died en-route.
My guess going in was that this was going to be a bit “lord of the flies in space” – and I wasn’t far wrong, although things don’t get quite as bad as that. The locations are good, and the performances from the cast of twenty-somethings and younger, are at worst servicable and at best sho real promise, even if some of the cast don’t get a chance to show much range.
I only have one real complaints about the film, which was that it strayed rather too much from “show, don’t tell” for some of the local wildlife. I can entirely understand why (budget), but that’s largely because the way it was handled pretty much yelled out “we don’t have the budget to show this stuff, so we won’t”. I wouldn’t have wanted full on CGI gribbly things (I rarely want that), but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more than people running around panicking whilst weird noises happened. The chronicler (the person who’s role on the team was to record everything and provide a lot of the viewpoint) being told “nobody should have to see that” wasn’t an adequate cover.
Still, as it goes, it’s a pretty minor complaint. I found the film watchable and enjoyed seeing it. For a young cast and (I’m guessing) a young set of filmamkers, it’s something they should be proud of.
Film 4 – Hell
I’d been lead to believe that Hell was going to be a nightmarishly bleak film… and I have to say that I don’t agree with that assessment. It was a harsh environment, with the sun having got brighter (hence the name – which is german for “bright”, and this is a german film) and the planet having got hotter and dryer, but I never got the impression that things were totally hopeless. There was always something else that could be done, or a problem that could be addressed. That said, that’s a disagreement with how the film was billed – I have very few disagreements with the film itself. In fact, I thought it was thoroughly excellent. I’m sure I’ll pick holes in it on a second viewing (and I want a second viewing), but I still really liked it.
The cast were universally excellent (although I’m sure that somebody who speaks german will tell me they sounded stilted and awkward – as an english speaker who can only kinda-sorta follow german I wouldn’t know!). The cinematography was stunning. The costuming and attention to detail in terms of setting and props was masterful.
But for a film billed for it’s bleakness, there was an awful lot of hope in it.
If you get a chance to track it down, do so.