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quietearth [Celluloid 02.09.12] Greece scifi comedy

Athena Rachel Tsangari (Attenberg) is running the funding circuit right now for her next flick which revolves around grumpy astronauts, bionic bunnies, and tiny robots. The "bionic bunnies" are a race of absurd alien bunny rabbits with radio-antenna ears and gigantic feet than can bring down a mountain. If you guessed this is a comedy, you're half right. It's a dark comedy.

Co-written with Matt Johnson, this has apparently been a passion project for years and will be shot on an volcanic island off Greece which will be standing in for Pluto's moon Charon. While there's no start date yet, they've currently achieved a quarter of the 4million euros they're looking for.

A cargo ship loaded with robots lands by mistake on a planetoid full of alien bunnies. Its crew of seven cranky humans build a town and wait for rescue, while their robots prepare for war. But only the ship’s ambitious captain, Demetra, recognizes something else: a chance for greatness.

We have a much longer synsopsis below, but beware, there are SPOILERS!

Captain Demetra Ballard wakes up from hiber-nation to discover that her spacecraft, the cargo freighter ES/V Opportunity, seems to have landed on the wrong planet. Instead of their planned destination of a company research station on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, her ship sits peacefully on the dark volcanic plain of an unknown world, with no record of how it got there.

Her six crew members are inexperienced and freaked out. Working with her only friend, the neurotic Dr. Z, Demetra does her best to figure out what happened. Yet she knows the cold reality: they are marooned. However, there is air, warmth, and gravity. Like all space travellers, they are equipped with micro-scopic medical machines in their bodies, called ‘tiny doctors’, which protect them from hazards,radiation, and injury. They don’t even allow the cargonauts to get properly drunk, despite heroic effort.

Except for Demetra and Z, the crew were strangers before this job, so they are just learning about one another. Cargo astronauts tend to be drifters,loners, washouts. Demetra is a rare exception: she’s a career astronaut, over twenty years in space. An elderly female scientist named Eklos is the keeper for a crew of animal-like robots, nicknamed eklobots. Each human crew member has an eklobot partner who performs most of their actual work. They discover that the ship’s cargo pod contains a wealth of construction supplies and a machine for making more eklobots. Demetra finally deduces that they are on Charon, the tiny moon of Pluto, far outside human-trafficked space. The terrain is prone to abruptly reconfigure itself with quiet seismic trickery. The Sun is small and weak in the sky; but the ground itself radiates warmth.

As they explore, they encounter two main forms of life: an apparently useless plant they nickname ‘C-tulips’, which can curl into a ball and roll. And an ungainly little creature with huge feet and ears, which they call a ‘C-bunny’. The C-bunnies ignore the humans; in fact they mostly just sleep. When awake, they herd the tulips from place to place like sleepwalking shepherds.

The crew is more interested in one another than the bunnies. They eat, sleep, argue, try to seduce one another, and complain. With eklobot labour, they build a camp. They have ample food supplies and a lifetime power generator. Floodlights push back the darkness. As weeks go by, fear becomes routine becomes boredom for the cargonauts, as some debate the structure of their new society and others just wait for rescue. Are they destined to be castaways, explorers, or colonists?

While some cling to an unlikely scheme for returning to Earth, Demetra sets out on her own journey to the wilder other side of the planetoid, seeking answers. The cargo-nauts descend into madness, building and building; the eklobots prepare a hopeless defense against the snoozing bunny hordes; and Demetra finds the source of Charon’s energy. But will the planet eat her, in the end, or will she eat the planet?

I have no idea what the concept art means.

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