Circles of the Sun: A dark odyssey set in 2035
by Davide Abbatescianni
- Alan Lambert presented his thrilling new sci-fi feature, starring Yalda Shahidi, Dean Kavanagh and Jann Clavadetscher, at IndieCork
The IndieCork Film Festival's third Irish world premiere was that of Circles of the Sun [+see also:
film profile], the fourth feature written, directed, edited and produced by Dublin-based filmmaker and visual artist Alan Lambert. The director has already explored the sci-fi genre in his previous film works, namely Pushtar and The End of the Earth Is My Home. Lambert briefly introduced his new feature and held a short Q&A after the screening at the Blacknight Festival Centre on 14 October.
Produced by Irish company Metal Dragon and supported by FilmBase, Circles of the Sun was filmed in the Lithuanian cities of Kaunas and Vilnius, as well as in Moscow and Ballincollig (Ireland), between February 2016 and March 2017. The film is set in 2035. The geopolitical chessboard has changed dramatically, and now the economic driving force of our continent has shifted to the Baltic states, which are in an ongoing conflict with the Russian Federation. Internet and digital technologies have been dismantled during this state of war and can only be used by the police forces and the army for security operations. Against this context, Irish forensic artist Marcel (Dean Kavanagh), accompanied by his wife, criminologist Julia (Yalda Shahidi), arrives in a small town to be apprenticed to David (Jann Clavadetscher), a holographic photographer whose role is to document crime scenes. David and Marcel, with the aid of high-speed holographic “Femto” cameras, start to discover a mysterious world of invisible and faceless criminals.
Lambert's fourth work is heavily grounded in unconventional, atmospheric filmmaking, rather than in plot development: the film’s cinematography is fascinating and disquieting, dominated by the extensive usage of blue tones, chiaroscuros, shadows, extreme close-ups, details and editing transitions. His unique cinematic style, together with the expertly constructed soundscape, provides an immersive and claustrophobic experience that shakes, confounds and invites viewers to analyse the different layers of meaning and to find possible interpretations of every single scene. The constant disruption of the space-time continuum contributes to the feeling of being in an endless loop, which slowly evolves and leads the viewers to a new chapter of the story.
The performances by the three lead actors perfectly embody the spirit of Lambert's visual poetry: the dialogue is kept to a minimum, and their interpretations are mostly carried by their actions and facial expressions. The director's visual-arts background is exploited here on the grandest scale imaginable. A higher budget would probably have amplified the evocative power of some scenes; however, the final outcome is still enjoyable and meets the demands of fans of experimental filmmaking.
Finally, special mention must be made of the soundtrack, which has strong echoes of Vangelis' musical work but has been rearranged in a highly original way, enriched by some notable world-music vibes.
Circles of the Sun is a film experience that privileges a non-linear narrative, minimal dialogue and visual metaphors, and successfully shakes up the viewer through a number of powerful images and their suggestions.
Metal Dragon, the Irish production company behind this feature, is also in charge of its festival and theatrical distribution.
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