Here’s an updated film treatment based on what we discussed last time. The previous version has been edited/shortened so that more time can be spent in the average world view – examining the effect the festival has on each of our protagonists and suggesting some changes in its aftermath.
Currently, the intent for the jury is to present the treatment as a spoken short story over an animated storyboard/soundscape to communicate the intent of the piece. *Images are indicative WIP!
Like a slippery pool of mercury, it glinted at her from her fingertip. As the morning light danced across the concave lens, it shifted from mirrored glass to transparent gel. Of all Aisha’s morning rituals, this was the first. With practised delicacy, she lifted it to her face and covered her eyes.
In a dense settlement, built out over an endless glossy ocean, under a white misty sky, a child played. Aisha’s village was one of several, connected by long walkways that extended over the waters. Each morning, slipped under their door, Aisha’s family received papers from Le. Papers that could be exchanged for food and goods at the local markets. One morning, no papers arrived, and as Aisha played at the edge of her settlement, she wondered if Le had forgotten them.
Miri’s city was a garden of Dionysian delights. Nestled in a mountainous lush forest, her city’s streets were mirrored arcades, shaded by lattices of grape vines, and flowering coffee plants. Every morning, as Miri sipped her tea and practised yoga amongst the bleating sheep that shared her city, she would submit a prayer to Le, wondering why it had taken her so long to ban the cruel slaughter of livestock for human consumption.
A great mirrored wall surrounded Rick’s house; a beautiful detached home that had been in his family for generations. The walls were to keep the crazys out. For a long time, Rick had felt estranged in his own city, and in recent years his movements shrank to a routine set of walled paths leading to trusted friends; the butcher, the barber, the school and the cricket pitch.
Recently, Le’s behaviour had bewildered him. Culture and civilisation herself were being eroded by all the newcomers Le was letting into the city – and districts once rich with identity and character were now overrun by immigrants and hooligans.
In these three cities and many others, a Festival in celebration of Le was announced, promising insight into the subtleties of culture, and unprecedented spectacle.
Aisha ran to the gathering place to see the festival’s opening, moving swiftly across the walkways. As she ran, the strange sounds of spirits’ conversations in foreign tongues echoed from the fog. The exotic fragrances of unfamiliar spices drifted across the air. On occasion, shadowy figures emerged from the mist, crossing her path before gliding back out over the water. These figures she dodged with rehearsed nimbleness – they would not harm her so long as she did not interact with them.
Miri’s walk to the festival site took her through golden arbours around which cafes full of friendly faces gathered. She was nervous and excited. Her friends had heard rumours that during the festival, personalisation services would be suspended, and she didn’t know what to expect.
Somewhere else, Rick walked down one of his narrow walled pathways, seeing himself reflected to infinity in the mirrors to either side. This excursion to the city plaza made him feel like a tourist in his own home, but despite his reservations, a curiosity he couldn’t quite place drove him to the centre of the action. The chaotic sounds of a great crowd signalled that he had arrived at the city square. Peering through them, he began to shuffle toward the great tree that marked the centre of his city.
Miri arrived early. She had made it in plenty of time to ensure she had a prime position near the mother tree at the centre of her city. In full bloom and covered in ripe fruit she took comfort in its shade. A small child stood directly opposite her, staring up into the canopy.
A sudden noise took Aisha out of her daydream. The crowd was counting backwards from ten. She stood under the tree that stood at the centre of the great pontoon that connected all the settlements. The volume of the counting increased as the crowd grew excited and as they reached zero, the air in front of the tree shimmered and a lone fruit fell.
The fruit hit the ground and pontoon vanished. She looked around and was startled to see that the ocean had gone too. Instead she stood in a white city, covered in the strange glyphs of an unknown language.
Aisha, Miri and Rick all stood dumbfounded around the tree. No longer organic, it appeared as a black mass of seething wires and antennas, all connected to whirring servers.
When the city rematerialized it was like nothing any of them had ever seen. Aisha could make out her settlement but it was now mostly obscured by neon-lit towers, punctuated by golden arcades covered in vines. Rick sank to his knees as he saw that his house, once protected by great walls, now stood exposed on all sides to strange architectures he couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
People were looking all around, but the settlements so familiar to Aisha and so foreign to everyone else had captured the most attention. Many stared in bewilderment at the slums that had until now, invisibly grown around their city. As the crowds focused on them, the settlements grew taller and denser until their scale was so preposterous Aisha laughed out loud. A whining in her ear told her that her older brother was calling. She answered with a nod. Her brother spoke urgently. ‘Bring as many people as you can home with you. We need to show them around’. ‘Why?’ asked Aisha, but he was already gone.
Miri looked down to see the child she had seen by the tree tugging at her sleeve. ‘Do you want to visit my house?’ the girl asked. Miri looked around. The square was starting to empty. As people started to wander off to explore this strange new city the slum settlements that Miri had until now thought were mountains started to shrink back to their previous size. Why not, she thought and she nodded to the girl. As they walked off small green buds grew where Miri had walked.
Rick stood in front of a restaurant two doors down from his house. For the first two days of the festival he had not stepped out his front door once, and now it was only the necessity to buy food for dinner that drove him into the streets. He had stopped outside this restaurant when the smell of exotically spiced barbequed meat wet his palette. He had smelt this before he realised, but never so strongly. The diffused scents of this foreign eatery must have sometimes carried in the wind to his front door. Inside a foreigner’s shout was followed by raucous laughter. Tentatively, he stepped inside.
Since the festival had started, Aisha’s family had received more papers from Le than ever before. In just four days, they had stockpiled food that would have taken weeks to gather before. Though she had already spent many hours roaming Le’s city, she still took pleasure in watching the shifting forms of the busy metropolis where once there had only been fog. Between errands to fetch new passers-by to show around her home, Aisha liked to guess at the lives of all those strange people who were her new neighbours.
After five days running around the city, attempting to infuse it with the greenery she was so familiar with, Miri was ready to give up. Her influence simply wasn’t great enough to make a dent in the city’s average concerns. On the other hand, the last few days had seen an explosion of boisterous animated creatures roaming the city as groups of children rich, poor and everything in between and played out their epic games in larger communities than ever before. In a last ditch effort to convince someone to care, she offered a complete stranger the address and password to her lens profile. Shocked by this self-breach of privacy, Rick found himself surrendering his own details in return.
In the days following the festival’s conclusion, patches of fog returned to Aisha’s community. However, much of the City of Le that had so briefly been revealed remained in Aisha’s view, although for her older brother the fog came back much more quickly.
Miri, inspired by her spontaneous exchange in the last days of the festival, set up a service, facilitating the safe swapping of lens profiles for those who wanted to recapture that ephemeral experience of Le. Her city, still luscious and green now revealed the settlement she had visited with Aisha on that very first day.
Sitting in the safety of his porch, Rick reflected on whether he’d made a terrible mistake in compromising his lens security. His walls were back up, although he had added several new paths to restaurants he had discovered, and an old movie theatre he had not known of. Lately, though, he had started noticing holes appearing in some of his walls, revealing glimpses of gardens beyond. That woman must have been exploring his profile he thought. To his surprise, he found he didn’t care. Resetting his lens, he entered the address and password the woman had given him and around him his world transformed.
I also came across this experiment to ask conservatives and liberals to swap facebook feeds. Not that scientific, but an interesting read.