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Souls of Totality is set in the world of a cult preparing to sacrifice themselves during an eclipse, in order to live eternally in an extra-terrestrial heaven. Lady 18, however, has been ordered to stay behind alone. Despite the unconventional setting that may conjure associations with off-beat documentaries or news stories of mass suicides, the romance at the heart of the narrative is empathetic and gives a rounded perspective of the will of the individual in a society.
The media dubbed 'Great American Eclipse' in 2017 garnered the attention of a country, and this sense of wonder has been cleverly incorporated into Raymond's story of two star-crossed lovers. The elegant cinematography, shot in Oregon, is visually very pleasing and culminates with a rather rewarding long take filmed amidst the real eclipse.
This decision is far from just a gimmick and adds to the sense of passion between Lady 18 and Guy 3, providing the perfect backdrop to illuminate a stunning performance from Tatiana Maslany.
Despite the restrictions of filming in such a changeable light, the film in no way feels rushed and guides the viewer through the turbulence of a forbidden relationship. Raymond's depiction of the couple is refreshingly grounded and far from the traditional portrayal of cult followers as brainwashed and psychotic. This careful handling allows for a scope of light and dark moments and creates an understanding of why people are willing to go to extreme lengths for something extraordinary.
Souls of Totality will be screened at Aesthetica Short Film Festival. Refer to timetables.
For more information on Souls of Totality, visit the short film's website.