We knew the coronavirus films were coming. In fact, at least one was already here.
And now, thanks to the Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival in Brazil, we’ve got a whole anthology full of freshly made quarantine-themed short films from 14* different filmmakers across the globe. (Cue the groaning and eye-rolling.)
But sometimes, as right-brained people can attest, magical things can happen when you’re low on resources and on the clock. And when the playing field is leveled and all are allowed to participate, the cream tends to rise to the top. Such is the case with The Pandemic Anthology, a collection of short films made during quarantine and about quarantine that showcases some impressive undiscovered talents.
This anthology began as a coping mechanism of sorts. With COVID-19 spreading rapidly around the world this spring, film production—thanks to the many interpersonal interactions that happen on set—was one of the first things to be nixed indefinitely.
Enter Fantaspoa, one of the premier genre film festivals in Brazil (and perhaps all of South America, who’s to say). In response to the coronavirus pandemic, they launched the Fantaspoa At Home competition, inviting filmmakers from around the world to create a short film “conceived and shot while social distancing” along the lines of genre-related themes. More than half of the selected shorts came from Brazil, but filmmakers from Uruguay, Argentina, U.S.A., U.K., and Cyprus were also selected.
Overall, the results, much like the COVID-19 results you don’t want, are positive.
It’s hard to summarize the subject matter of an anthology film of this size, but considering the thematic limitations, these filmmakers really stretched their creativity. Concepts include flying saucers, homicidal puppets, Satan-worshiping cats, ghost children, creepy dolls, salt circles, the dark web, viral zombies, and a talking Anubis figurine. (And weirdly enough, two different references to Videodrome.)
Considering that these filmmakers didn’t really have budgets, crews, or much time to write their scripts, the formats they chose are equally important. There are a couple Unfriended-style desktop motifs, some Skype and FaceTime calls, a dating app, a Zoom call, an online game format, and even a couple stylish black-and-white segments.
Like all anthology films, The Pandemic Anthology is ultimately a mixed bag in terms of quality. Some films suffer from poor sound, lackluster picture quality, or perhaps not the best actors available. But none are without redeemable qualities, and many are genuinely entertaining. There’s even a pretty great scare or two.
Since we’re dealing with an unprecedented global event, there will undoubtedly be more corona content for many, many years to come. But thanks to the timeliness of Fantaspoa and the resourceful instincts of several breakthrough directors, The Pandemic Anthology should go down as the first one that’s worth your time.
The Pandemic Anthology screened as part of the 2020 Chattanooga Film Festival. If you’d like to check it out for yourself, or any of the other films in our upcoming CFF 2020 coverage, visit the Chattanooga Film Festival website (U.S. residents only).
*This reviewer counted 14 segments. Some sources say it’s 13. Some say it’s 15. Let’s just say it’s more than a dozen.
[CFF 2020] ‘The Pandemic Anthology’ Showcases Impressive Low-Budget Creativity From Across the Globe
The Pandemic Anthology showcases creative filmmakers from around the globe thanks to timely themes and creative limitations.