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Soleil De Nuit
Directed by: Fernando López Escrivá, Maria Camila Arias
Cast: Larissa Corriveau, Jacques Newashish, Mark Krupa, Oshim Ottawa
Synopsis: While training for a moon landing, a group of Canadian astronauts are tasked with an added mission by a Native American elder.
Where did the idea for this film come from?
While researching for a feature film we're writing together, which is also the story of an astronaut and an indigenous man, this one set in Bolivia, we came upon an anecdote / rumor that took place in the 60s in a desert in the United States. In several texts and accounts, we read about an encounter between the Apollo 11 crew and a Navajo elder. Apparently, the Navajo man found on his land an astronaut performing several exercises as if he were actually on the moon. After a brief exchange, the Navajo elder allowed the astronaut to continue under the condition that he delivered a sacred message to the spirits of his community on the moon. The message was a lesson about colonization. We decided to adapt this anecdote to the present time to further expand on this idea of human colonization, expansion and exploration. In the 1960s, the Americans went to the moon to expand humanity's horizon. This time around, the upcoming missions to the moon take it one step further as they intend to exploit the moon's resources. This new angle brings in additional themes that are very pertinent in today's world, where Earth is ravaged and experiencing the worst environmental crisis in human history, in great part due to Colonialism's role in the overexploitation of natural resources.
Different cultures relate to their environment differently. How do you view what the West calls progress?
Progress is one of those words that has lost its meaning, or rather, that only tends to mean something within our capitalist and consumerist society. For the West, progress has always meant growth, but usually in terms of new resources (environmental, intellectual or technological) to consume, trade and allow humanity's horizon to expand. Progress is rarely associated with the spiritual, and even less so with the idea of slowing down. In today's world, with environmental crisis' reaching a point of no return, the West has to reconsider its perspective on progress, because at the rate we are going, such progress will only lead to our own demise. In writing this short film, we really debated and reconsidered our own point of view regarding the West's quest to conquer space. Missions to the moon are the epitome of human progress, and we believed it ourselves. But for our species and our world to survive, the concept of “progress” must take a new and much more balanced form. If we humans were able to reach the moon, and we are doing it again, we must also face the challenge of our environmental crisis by defying our own vision of progress, one more in tune with the pressing necessities of planet earth.
What do each of the characters in the film represent?
Each character in our film represents an archetype within the themes of progress, colonialism and the expansion of the human race. On one side is the Atikamekw elder, a man who has lived and experienced firsthand the consequences of colonialism and the overexploitation of natural resources in his territory. We play with the idea of the “wise” elder, but we turn it around with the film's punchline: he challenges the astronauts to reconsider their point of view on progress, but he does so in a less traditional way, by teasing them. The boss stands on the opposite side of the spectrum. He's convinced of his own concept of progress. He's rigid and more closed off. When he learns the true meaning of the message, he feels humiliated rather than humbled. The astronaut stands between these two men. She is from a newer generation, belonging to a scientific and technological tradition but also forced to reckon with the challenges of today's ravaged Earth. When she learns the true meaning of the message she's humbled and it is in this character that we place the hope in our film. The character of the driver plays the important role of being part of the two worlds, and the little girl represents the generation for which all this is at stake. Everything we do or stop doing is for her generation. She seems like a secondary character, but in the end, she's the one who gives the most meaning to the message.
Discuss the making of your first short film?
We started thinking about this short film many years ago, when we were writing a feature film with similar themes, characters and setting. We wrote several drafts as we kept looking for funding. Originally, the story took place in the 60s, but thanks to a refusal from a fund in Canada, we were forced to delve a little deeper into the themes and that's when we decided to adapt the story to the present. It was a great decision because moving it to the present opened up new, much more relevant themes and also the possibility for the astronaut to be a woman. We prepared in different ways, but above all, we had long talks with the team, with the DP, the actors, discussing their characters in depth, with the assistant director, the producers... Being first-time directors, we placed a lot of trust in our team, we asked many questions and used their experience in our favor. Working as a team of writers/ directors was also very helpful, since we had each other to discuss our ideas and to rethink them. And we did not always agree. That made us explore further and find solutions that we had not thought of. Each one has different strengths and that also allowed us to take weight off our shoulders.
What will you be working on next?
We're currently in development of a feature film that takes place in Bolivia, also about an astronaut and an indigenous Quechua elder. We wrote it together and we plan on codirecting. We're looking for funding to shoot in 2024.