The air of 2020 had doomsday written all over it. While the pandemic imposed restrictions on almost all aspects of life, where stepping on to the street was equivalent to walking on thin ice, few people took inspiration from the pandemic as they incorporated the idea of apocalypse into cinema, creating films that eventually made their way into the Sundance Film Festival.
An apocalyptic comedy and a virus horror, both entirely devised, shot and edited during the pandemic, brought a new cinematic experience on Friday at Sundance, now conducted online, courtesy COVID-19 pandemic, AFP reported.
Speaking at the "virtual" world premieres at the influential US indie event, the films' creators described how they funnelled their boredom and anxiety into creativity by quickly finding ways to safely film during long lockdowns.
"I had a slightly hysterical episode about one week into the lockdown... I needed to calm down and part of the calming down was to try and write," recalled ‘In The Earth’ director Ben Wheatley.
The first production to film in the UK after lockdown, the horror is set in a remote English forest where scientists are conducting mysterious experiments while a virus sweeps through the cities.
"It was a weird amount of pressure on us... all the protocols were brand new at that point," said Wheatley.
While COVID-19 does not provide the main plot of the movie, it serves as an essential backdrop to the film's events.
While 2020 made it amply convenient to relate to the virus horror, comedy ‘How It Ends’ sought humour in times of distress as it imagined Los Angeles on its last day, waiting for an asteroid to wipe out the planet.
Liza, played by co-director Zoe Lister-Jones, set out on foot to confront those who have wronged her -- and make a few last-minute apologies of her own -- all en route to a wild, end-of-days party.
Conceived in the early weeks of California's lockdown and shot in summer, the movie also takes place almost entirely outdoors -- on the city's permanently sunny streets, gardens and pool decks.
The filmmakers raced to finish and release the film "while we are all still struggling with some of this emotional minefield," said Lister-Jones, describing the process as therapeutic during "a very bleak time."
Sundance also saw the premiere of 'The Pink Cloud', in which two strangers are forced to cohabit indefinitely when a toxic cloud spreads across the planet midway through their one-night-stand, making the outside air deadly. This Brazilian sci-fi was shot before the pandemic.
The top US indie film festival will feature 72 films making their premieres via online streaming, with the shortened film festival running through to February 3, 2021.