Perpetual Anamnesis is a short film for what I'm now affectionately calling the quarantine generation, those of us who've found our lives shut down and our bodies kept inside during the current COVID-19 pandemic that has been sweeping the globe.
Written and directed by Joseph Villapaz, Perpetual Anamnesis centers around a man (Villapaz) whom we're introduced to as he's on a video call with his wife (Keeley Shantz) while the two are separated by coasts amidst what appears to be a similar type of pandemic. Their conversation appears to be somewhat normal, though there's an underlying tension that lets you know all is not well in the scenario.
Perpetual Anamnesis is the latest short film for Villapaz in a sci-fi anthology immersed in the world of The Magnate, an alien race stationed on Earth yet immune to this world's all too often fatal illnesses. While The Magnate has mastered the art of physical survival, they've become less able to weave into their existence earthly emotions and the mental status of those on this planet. The frequent result is that when emotional integration fails they became self-destructive and unpredictable behaviorally.
Obviously a low-budget effort constructed during this very time, Perpetual Anamnesis begins with a Star Wars-style entry, though much of the film is less sci-fi and far more human drama as we observe this couple struggling with those things that couples struggle with while their occasional flirtatiousness is also ever present.
Keeley Shantz is the real gem here as Izmira, a vibrant personality and fierce devotion apparent in her words and physicality. Villapaz plays it differently as Doz, out of necessity, and it serves his character well while Patricia Lawrence shines as Doz's attentive but matter-of-fact mother.
Tasked with producing a low-budget sci-fi drama, Villapaz has clearly put most of his focus on the story itself and allows for each actor's physicality to tell the story that can't necessarily be told with visual effects or a lofty production budget. Fortunately, they're for the most part up to that task.
Other than the film's trio of performers, Perpetual Anamnesis is pretty much a one-man show for Villapaz production wise and while the film isn't likely to be seen in the Academy Awards given the obvious challenges of low-budget shooting during a quarantine Villapaz has definitely performed admirably here.
Perpetual Anamnesis picked up an Honorable Mention in the category of sci-fi shorts from the New York Movie Awards during the month of May and it will be interesting to watch as the country opens up and indie fests start springing back to life virtually and, in some limited cases, for theatrical screenings. For more information on the film, visit its IMDB page linked to in the credits.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic