Aniara @ TIFF

Because we have made such a mess of the planet we humans live on there has been plenty of worry about if we have gone too far towards irreperable damage. The question has cropped up as to whether we are going to be able continue living here. If not, then where, is the next obvious question to ponder. A worry like this has crept into the collective human psyche and, as such, the film world.

Swedish film Aniara directed and co-written by Pella Kagerman (first feature film) addresses this very issue. It makes it clear what side of the issue it is on quite early. Depicting humans as overly addicted to consumption. Even in the face of crisis the need to “have” things continues. Another huge message of the film is that Earth must be considered our only option. The only place we humans can live. And survive. It is a call to action. To take care of how we treat this planet or we doom ourselves.

A large spaceship leaves Earth and plots a course to Mars. Earth is in a shambles and so an alternate planet to live on is a necessity. Aniara is one of the huge spaceships leaving Earth transporting many humans to live on Mars. The trip is supposed to take weeks.

Not long after departure, Aniara goes off course after colliding with an asteroid. Slowly, but surely, the crew and then the passengers begin to realize they will never be able to get back on course. That means they will spend their lives on the spaceship. Panic sets in. Behaviour of the passengers becomes more and more wild and dangerous.

Writer Henry Martinson, winner of a Nobel Prize, wrote the poem this sci-fi film is based upon in 1956. Previously plays and operas have been constructed based upon it. It seems more relevant than ever today, so a film treatment is totally warranted.

Throughout most of the film, no matter what is happening, a feeling or aura of eeriness looms over the entirety of the film. You sit there, biting the inside of your cheek in anticipation of something happening. Something bad. A dark view of what humans are capable of in times of stress.

Questions are asked and in most respects I am frightened of the probable answers. Humans do not come off looking great here. Not able to handle much stress at all. Not well, anyways. Claustrophobia sets in and base behaviour ensues. It becomes a looking out for number one environment.

Despite the fact that the film did not benefit from a large budget, the look and feel of the film does not suffer. Plenty of clever means were used to make the film look realistic without tons of money. A ferry became the ship. A shopping mall became the interior of the ship.

This is was probably one of the more strange/odd films of TIFF. For several reasons, a bright one is that this is a genre or sci fi film that is centered around women. Not a genre you naturally think of when you think of female led films. Director/co-writer Kagerman decided to make the lead character a female.

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