[Note: Gravity spoilers ahead]
Despite all the mind-blowing special effects and extended, one-take action sequences in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, chances are that one of the scenes that sticks with you the most is a quiet moment aboard a Russian space capsule where Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) makes radio contact with a foreign-speaking individual as she believes she’s about to die.
Although the conversation is mostly lost in translation, Stone finds solace in her anonymous companion as he sings his baby a lullaby and she slowly falls asleep as she loses radio contact. If you’re interested in knowing more about the people at the other end of that radio transmission, a short film by Cuaron’s son Jonas Cuaron does just that.
Financed by Warner Home Video and originally intended as an extra feature for Gravity’s home release, a seven-minute short film entitled Aningaaq could now be on its way to Oscar history, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Screened at the Venice and Telluride Film festivals, Warner is pushing for an Academy Award nomination for Jonas’s Aningaaq in the category of Live Action Short.
And if the film does get a nomination, Gravity and Aningaaq would make history as the first time a feature film and a spinoff short would earn nominations in the same year.
Aningaaq follows an Inuit fisherman on a remote fjord in Greenland when he receives a radio transmission from Stone. The short then plays out using the exchange as it appeared in the film, with the fisherman’s native Inuit subtitled for the viewer to understand. What we get is a stark and surprisingly heartfelt companion piece in which the viewer is struck by the isolation of two characters separated in immense ways.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Aningaaq was shot on location on a budget of about $100,000, most of which went to travel costs. Completed before the final sound mix for Gravity, the voice heard aboard the Russian space capsule in the final film comes directly from the short, making for a seamless collaboration between the the two films.
Still, Jonas, who co-wrote Gravity with his father, told The Hollywood Reporter that he made sure “to make it a piece that could stand on its own.” And while the short film could certainly engage on its own as a representation of a specific place and time, there’s no doubt that Aningaaq’s partnership with the events of Gravity adds a unique layer of subtext that pushes the seven-minute piece to new heights.
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