Hyperlight: Two elite astronauts wake up in the abyss of space before managing to return to their stranded ship, where they discover the reason behind their mission’s catastrophic failure. Hyperlight, a low budget 18-minute short-film produced by Second Tomorrow Studios in Canada, is a sleek sci-fi film that builds a captivating drama—and a unique love story—into a scenario faster-than-light travel might one day create. According to Nguyen:
“The film was conceived as a piece that would take the viewer in multiple directions as we moved through the story. I wanted to start with a space action sequence to hook the viewer in, then go into a slow burn horror that would morph into a dramatic character piece. It was challenging to do it within the length of a short film while still maintaining a coherent storyline, but I’m happy with the end result.”
On October 15th, 2054, after decades of research, aerospace giant Lockheed Martin creates a prototype of the world’s first fusion reactor. Ten years later, at the peak of a global climate catastrophe, governments around the world ban the use of fossil fuels in response to the irreparable damage caused to Earth. The first stable fusion reactor is put to commercial use, providing an almost limitless source of clean energy. It changes the course of humanity forever.
In 2074, a small NASA-funded research lab in Wyoming, led by physicist Emiliana Newton, leverages the power of fusion to push the physical frontiers of deep space exploration. They manage to make an atom move so fast that it travels back in time, which effectively opens the door for faster-than-light (FTL) space travel. They dub it the Hyperlight core.
In 2075, NASA receives a distress signal coming from a nearby planet, Q465b. Though faster-than-light travel has only been tested in controlled environments, NASA and the International Space Agency jointly form a new entity called USEF (United Space Exploration Federation) with the purpose of manning an exploratory mission to find the origin of this mysterious signal. Construction of the USEF SOLIS is completed on December 2084. Emiliana Newton and Philip Maeda are chosen to embark on the mission. Their journey is estimated to take 60 years.
Hyperlight by director Nguyen-Anh Nguyen (The Akira Project) is a science fiction short film you might have missed when it first premiered a few months ago. And if you missed it, you must know that it is a powerful, significant film that is a victory for both fans of representation and strong science fiction. Here are five reasons you can’t miss Hyperlight.
Hyperlight, by the director’s own description, consists of “two actors in a room or something.” The film begins with astronaut Emiliana (Jeananne Goosen, MacGyver, The Walking Dead) awakening from cryogenic sleep in space. She immediately asks her AI assistant Ada (Caroline Dhavernas, Mary Kills People, Hannibal) about the status of another astronaut. We learn that the other astronaut, Phillip (Peter Shinkoda, Daredevil) is in danger.
His cryopod has lost power and his oxygen levels are critical. Ignoring Ada’s advice, Emiliana follows Phillip’s cryopod to bring him back on board. While she succeeds in doing so, something more sinister is awaiting her back on the ship.
It’s a remarkably simple premise, but there’s a twist here that redefines our expectations. Couple that with emotionally resonant performances, and it really shows us that you can make an amazing film that essentially exists in one room with three actors.
In today’s movie landscape, science Fiction isn’t exactly in short supply. Even once-nerd properties like Star Wars have gone mainstream. But in a sea of VFX, Hyperlight shines because its real focus is on humanity. In just 17 short minutes, the film’s characters go through a remarkable range of emotions. We see Emiliana’s determination to save Phillip, her fear about his health, and her dread when she realizes something is wrong. And when we get to that end twist, it’s a hauntingly beautiful moment that Goosen captures flawlessly.
We also see this depth in Shinkoda’s performance, who experiences emotions from bewilderment to joy to ultimate unawareness of what has actually transpired, and his face best captures the shock that the audience will experience. These are masterful performances, and make you connect with the humans beyond the futuristic premise.
|Genre||Short, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi|
|Directed By||Nguyen-Anh Nguyen|
|Written by||Nicolas Billon|
|Produced by||Jeananne Goossen, Nguyen-Anh Nguyen|
|Release Date||April 2018 (USA)|
|Starring||Jeananne Goossen, Peter Shinkoda, Caroline Dhavernas|
|Aspect Ratio||2.39 : 1|