Do you ever stop and think about all the crazy things that are happening in the world at this very instant? Like, somewhere in Nigeria a dude maybe just broke his foot jumping carelessly off a rock? Or perhaps in a snowy Japanese village a baby is refusing to eat her food? Or maybe, just maybe, Sandra Bullock is careening through space on a flaming spaceship with no hope for survival?
That’s sort of the premise for a short film and Gravity tie-in entitled Aningaaq, written and directed by Jonás Cuarón. Of course you recognize the last name, and may even know Cuarón as the son of master director Alfonso, but few people realize that Gravity was actually written between the two as a father-son affair. With Aningaaq Jonás apparently saw the opportunity to get behind the camera himself while keeping the piece within the Gravity universe, and — why not? — piggybacking a little on the seven Academy Awards the innovative sci-fi disaster feature picked up along the way.
But other than existing in the same fictional time-space continuum, Aningaaq and Gravity couldn’t be more different. Whereas Gravity is a visually dazzling choreography of impending doom, Aningaaq is a still, silent slice of life from the snowy fjords of Greenland. Our hero, named Aningaaq, is an indigenous Greenlander fisherman going about his daily routine when he receives an indecipherable call on his ham radio. Of course, we know it’s Sandra Bullock — or more appropriately, Dr. Ryan Stone — but Aningaaq can’t make heads or tails of the woman’s desperate pleas. Somehow though, they manage to transcend linguistic barriers and make a brief, but meaningful human connection.
Aningaaq’s quotidian concerns about fishing, family, and putting down a beloved dog, are cast into relief as we consider the chaos unfolding as Dr. Stone struggles to survive miles above his head. It’s a small, understated film, and perhaps it even feels a bit stiff as it cuts back-and-forth between somewhat academic camera angles, but Jonás Cuarón does succeed in leaving us with an inexplicable, lingering feeling. It’s been around for a while, but we wanted to bring this short film back for Oscar season. Hit play on the video up top to watch Aningaaq.
For more from the crown prince of Mexican Hollywood, we’ll have to wait until his upcoming second feature Desierto hits U.S. theaters this March.