How do you plan for a future you won’t be a part of? Is it even worth it? Those are the questions at the heart of writer/director Lalithra Fernando’s sci-fi short film, A Capsule for Robin, which debuted at the International South Asian Film Festival (iSAFF) in Canada and will be screening at Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF, Nov. 2-12), both in person and virtually.
After an unnamed plague wiped out most of the world, Rina (Ami Sheth), one of the few survivors, gathers her remaining friends to celebrate being chosen, along with her husband, Gus (Vandit Bhatt), to be genetic donors for a child who may be born in the future. The title refers to a video they’re all recording to serve as a time capsule for this child. But conflict arises when Gus reveals doubts about bringing kids into an uncertain future that no one they know will be alive to see.
The entire 13-minute film takes place in the couple’s home, coming to life through the characters’ interactions. Unlike a lot of sci-fi, it doesn’t concern itself too much with the nuts and bolts of what went wrong, focusing instead on the toll of the fallout. The apocalypse, described only vaguely in a few lines of dialogue, serves as a backdrop to the human story at the film’s center. And it’s one that reflects thoughts that many of us have likely had, thanks especially to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change. Is it ethical to create a new life when that person might have to live in a terrible world, one nobody can predict? Through finely crafted dialogue and subtle yet emotional acting, the characters in A Capsule for Robin flow between despair and hope as they contemplate their decision.
The darkness outside is reflected through the literal darkness of the set, with the black of night pressing against the windows in the background. Yet the warmly lit home, which has contemporary trappings apart from a sci-fi gadget being used to record the virtual time capsule, feels familiar and comforting… perhaps representative of the glow of life amid the wash of the void beyond. Quiet and meditative, yet packing an emotional punch, A Capsule for Robin is a beautiful and contemplative look at uncertainty, despair, and hope at the end of the world.
“Science fiction questions the default,” Fernando said in his director’s statement. “Who gets chosen to repopulate the world? What culture do they pass down? More fundamentally, is it even right to bring kids into a troubled world? A CAPSULE FOR ROBIN delves into a somber world and finds characters who still choose to believe in a better future for their children and the world.”
View a trailer for A Capsule for Robin below.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars