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The scale and quality of science fiction films in the short form continues to impress. The latest high-caliber production to appear online is Giacomo Cimini’s The Nostalgist, a 2014 festival darling that, following its distribution through some private outlets, is finally making its way online. Based on a story by NY Times best-selling author Daniel H Wilson, the film is an interesting amalgamation of a dystopian high-tech future and and an idyllic fantasy world, featuring some truly stunning world-building elements.
Needless to say, this is an ambitious film—one that took a crew of over 45 London film professionals 7 days to shoot in 2013. Post production was equally intensive. The elaborate visual effects work—which was completed in May 2014—was led by VFX house Inky Mind. The film also secured funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over £32,000 to bring Wilson’s story and Cimini’s vision to the screen.
And, as they say they in the industry, the “money is on the screen.” The film is a cornucopia of impressive elements, from stunning cinematography to creative production design to high-quality visual effects. Purely on an aesthetic level, the film looks more impressive than your average studio feature. But, beyond the sheen (and, granted, that’s hard to overlook), the film deals with a lot of interesting cinematic ideas from virtual reality to artificial intelligence. Moreover, as the title indicates, the story centers on an obsession with an idealized version of the past. Although perhaps not as literally portrayed in this film, there’s no doubt that our culture is obsessed with all that has come before it. So, it’s interesting to think of science fiction dystopia (a.k.a the stuff of genre cliché) as a disturbing extension of this very idea. What if our future hell centers around the fact that we can’t stop reliving the past?
“The life of every human being is a collection of memories. Can we trick ourselves by pretending something never happened?”
Communicating via e-mail, Director Cimini elaborates: “The life of every human being is a collection of memories. Can we trick ourselves by pretending something never happened? Can we relieve ourselves of the weight of the past through our sense of nostalgia? These for me are the two main questions raised by Daniel’s short story. These are the questions that drove me in adapting the story as a short film. Questions that now are even more relevant with the VR revolution happening as we speak.”
While The Nostalgist was crafted prior to VR’s sudden rise to the mainstream, it does feel incredibly prescient right now, almost as if the creators unwittingly tapped into our current fascination. While this is certainly not the only big budget sci-fi short we’ve seen tackle the concept of virtual reality, we liked how the film balances both its emotional core with all the eye candy. Granted, we think the short overreaches at times—some of those emotional moments feel a bit forced and don’t land. But, in an arena where so many high caliber short special effects films lack soul, we admire Cimini and his crew for at least reaching into those depths.
After the success of The Nostalgist, Cimini is currently hard at work casting his next film—a submarine monster movie called Cold Waters. He also continues to develop a time-travel adventure thriller and a ESP paranormal thriller. All sound like very promising projects. Be sure to follow him on twitter to keep up to date.