Directed by: #SarahPhillips
Written by: #SarahPhillips
In years gone by, science fiction previously has been dominated by exploration. Adventurers would shoot off into the stars to discover new life forms. Now science-fiction has become more dystopian and far more interested in the widening chasm between the haves and the have nots. From Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer to Neil Blomkamp’s Elysium, some may say that this trope is a little worn out. However, it is more pertinent now than it ever has been. While director Sarah Phillips’ short film, Supplements treads over familiar ground, Supplements is still an affecting film.
The year is 2289, and the super-wealthy are separated from the rest of humanity. The wealthy live in Old Centauri, a city shielded by protective domes. The rest are left to haphazardly wander around the planet, trying to avoid the destructive solar flares that flicker across Earth. Kiirke (Laetitia Leon) is one such nomad, who after Meemaw (Roberta Moses)’s hand is burned by a flare, leaves for Old Centauri in an attempt to raise enough money to save Meemaw’s life. Unknowingly, her little fourteen-year-old brother, Jute (Murtaza Ali), tags along. Kiirke and Jute expect to get away with working to raise the necessary cash, but Old Centauri is a relentless city – and work at a garage won’t cut it. Instead, the city demands a blood price.
While effective as a short film, Supplements is clearly part of something bigger. This short film is an intriguing start to a series, certain characters and plot points are left seemingly unfinished, a category that includes our antagonist, Dr Jean Mercole (La’Netia D. Taylor). Mercole seems to be an interesting character, and it will be intriguing to see where Phillips takes this character in later additions of this story, and these fifteen minutes leaves you hungry for more.
While this trope is nothing new, Phillips has left her own mark on this project. Supplements borrows elements from the super-futuristic set designs of Hollywood sci-fi films and blends them with steampunk style and wild makeup; creating a vibrant and unique future world. As Kiirke embarks on her quest, the cinematography of dusty brown forests and swirling grey skies confirms that this isn’t the Earth we recognise. Still, these skies look familiar enough for us to realise we aren’t so far removed from this future. The score is also wickedly clever. For a few beats, the score is reminiscent of Mozart’s Requiem –filling the audience with dread – but suddenly the score shifts and becomes more fantastical. Like being in Old Centauri itself, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security.
Supplements isn’t rule-breaking, but it is a highly stylised and successful sci-fi film which begs for the story to continue. The story has just begun, and I’m left on tenterhooks wondering if Dr Jean Mercole will ever taste her own medicine.