The Living is a film about human isolation and, specifically, how shifts in the frequency and quality of human interaction might shape the American future. For many of my fellow Gen Y-ers, the notion that we’re traveling down a path of increased human isolation probably seems far-fetched and alarmist, or, at best, a non-issue. After all, we’re children of the Information Age, the first generation born into a world of mass media and wireless technology that allows us to stay in constant contact with both close friends and strangers who live thousands of miles away.
Although I recognize and enjoy the technological advances that continue to bring us closer in the virtual sense and satisfy an array of social longings, I’ve also wondered what culture shifts these innovations might encourage in the long run. As I developed the script for The Living, I pondered a host of moral quandaries that might arise in a society where human desire has been reduced at accelerated rates – where the population has normalized the practice of communicating with both strangers and loved ones at mainly a physical distance. Ultimately, I wanted to know how this continuing ethos might inform the way Americans value human life. Continue reading →
My parents emigrated from Taiwan in the 1960s and I was raised with the narrative – some might say “mythology” – that America truly was a Land of Opportunity: a place where many different colored threads are woven together to form a tapestry stronger and more vibrant than if those threads been all been spun from the same field of cotton.
Born and bred in New York City, this “melting-pot” cliché was further solidified by my multicultural friends and peers. It seemed obvious to me that America was a place that gathered its strength from its diversity, and that historically, all of the growth times came out of the waves of immigrants that lapped up onto our shores, looking for a better life: Italians, Irish, Chinese, Mexican….
But as I grew older, I began to see that not all of my fellow Americans shared this perspective. While in my youth, I clung to my righteousness, over time I began to realize that my own condemnation of such black-and-white opinions was a shallow simplification itself. I was left wrestling with both sides, struggling to find compassion for an intolerance that I did not understand. Continue reading →
This week’s FUTURESTATES short depicts a future where a cyber attack on the United States Immigration database puts a young woman, Sonia, at risk of being deported back to Iran – but remaining in the U.S. may come at a greater price than she’s willing to pay. Director Mohammad Gorjestani gives us this inside look at the inspiration behind the short film, which is available to stream for free at futurestates.tv and on pbs.org.
As an Iranian American, I find myself on both sides of an escalating geopolitical situation between the United States and Iran. When invited to pitch a story for the FUTURESTATES series, I began to realize that I wanted to further explore the potential repercussions of the brewing U.S./Iran conflict in the not-too-distant future.
As I explored the landscape and hypothesized various scenarios that I felt deserved attention, I stumbled upon two profound realizations. The first was that the nature of warfare has evolved to the point that cyber warfare is no longer rooted in fiction, but rather an aggressively approaching reality. The second was that a large number of Iranian immigrants living in the U.S. could find themselves victims of political backlash similar to the experience of Japanese Americans during World War II. I knew, however, that while history could repeat itself, it would likely not replicate the past but come in a new form. Continue reading →
Starting today, the fourth season of FUTURESTATES debuts a new futuristic episode from seven cutting-edge indie filmmakers every Wednesday, kicking off with today’s Elliot King is Third. In 2024, gender is identified by microchip implant, and trans people like Elliot are classified “third.” But can he change his identity in an attempt to build a safer life? Director Rose Troche gives us this inside look at the inspiration behind the short film, which is currently streaming on futurestates.tv.
The conversation of Elliot King began a long while back. I would say that the seed of this idea was formed over time and various places/events. Things like involvement in LGBTQ activism, casual conversations with friends over dinner, witnessing the changing political landscape of America – these were all important in the development of this story and the character of Elliot King.
We’re fortunate enough to live in a time and place where identity doesn’t stop at male or female and that gender and sexual identity is fluid across a large spectrum. That being said, how does one reconcile the difference between self-identification and when a government defines it for you? I’ve never believed in outing someone. It’s something that should happen when a person is ready.
Elliot King began as a question of giving other people the power to make those choices for you and the consequences of that. This film is an exploration of how pressure and time can be extremely transformative powers in a modern society. Continue reading →
Beginning Monday, March 4, PBS will launch the second annual Online Film Festival, showcasing 25 short films from independent filmmakers. The festival will last through March 22 and can be accessed via the PBS website and PBS’s YouTube channel.
PBS announced yesterday that its popular PBS Online Film Festival will return for a second year, beginning Monday, March 4, 2013. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite short film from March 4 through March 22, to help determine the People’s Choice Award.
A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.
Celebrity documentaries don’t have to be brainless. Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service compiled a list of the top ten performer documentaries, including such classics as the Bob Dylan film Don’t Look Back and Madonna: Truth or Dare. (via POV)
If you’re wondering where the inventive imagery of Beasts of the Southern Wild came from, check out the director Behn Zeitlin’s first animated short, the bizarre and fascinating Egg, based on Moby-Dick.
Finally, a level-headed examination of what it takes for a professional film to succeed on the web from Short of the Week: “Cat videos and bad web series are not your competition. Your real competition is the 5,000 other dramas shot with shallow depth-of-field and digital effects that go up every week.” Continue reading →
A curated list of indie news and recommendations from ITVS’s Rebecca Huval.
Get your creativity on! Longshot Radio and Radiolab talked about creativity, revision, and failure at the 99% Conference in New York City last week. For your listening pleasure, they compiled their editors’ picks of podcasts from the event.
Behold the TV of the future: using an iPad as a remote, you can control the features that appear on your screen and the overall size, which can stretch the length of your living room wall. Wired claims this is just “what the TV industry needs to stay relevant.”
Forecast future events and explore the predictions left by others on the FUTURESTATES Predict-O-Meter.
Find your shades … it’s getting bright around here!
The producers of FUTURESTATES have launched brand new predictions … think of these as “forward stories” (as opposed to “back”). Just fire up the Predict-O-Meter and take a walk down Premonition Lane to see what’s ahead.
And that’s not all…Check back on the FUTURESTATES site in the weeks to come to cast your vote in our Predict-O-Meter poll, where you get to vote on which prediction is most likely to come true and find out how you can join a live online event with the winning filmmaker.
Catch a special FREE screening of FUTURESTATES Season Two on Saturday, April 23rd at 2:30PM at the Clearview Cinema in Chelsea, NYC
ITVS and Tribeca All Access host a free screening of shorts from the second season of FUTURESTATES on Saturday, April 23rd at 2:30PM at the Clearview Cinema in Chelsea. This year’s selection, listed below, highlights Tribeca All Access alumni as well as emerging New York filmmaking talent:
Director Suzi Yoonessi describes how the environmental reality of Mono Lake informs her futuristic fairy tale and how she used the Persian stories from her childhood to bring a cautionary tale about climate change to life.