Last year, I was very excited by the first “season” of FUTURESTATES, a series of shorts commissioned by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) to explore the following question: ” What will become of America in five, 25, or even 50 years?” There was some very strong work in the first group of films, including Play (David Kaplan and Eric Zimmerman), Silver Sling (Tze Chun) and Plastic Bag (Ramin Bahrami).
Of the ten new films slated for the second season, six will premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. And I can share that there are some even more powerful films in this batch. I was excited to see that Barry Jenkins, who directed the unique Medicine for Melancholy (review) would be contributing a film, and his Remigration poignantly explores the themes of race, class, and urban renewal that he touched upon in his earlier feature. Another director who uncovers some fascinating issues surrounding race is A. Sayeeda Clarke, whose White shows us a society in the grip of climate change where black people are forced to trade their genetic advantage in order to take care of their families. I also loved Kimi Takesue’s That Which Once Was which features a healing relationship between an 8-year-old Caribbean boy and an Inuit ice sculptor, both displaced and traumatized by the changing climate.
In addition to highlighting important issues confronting our planet, the best of these films are able to capture beautiful images and introduce us to memorable characters facing issues our children and grandchildren may yet face. And best of all, FUTURESTATES episodes are all available (or soon will be) to watch in their entirety online, free of charge. Not only has the series proven educational on the environmental front, but I’ve actually discovered some new filmmakers, the rest of whose work I now want to discover.