#SciFiSunday: Spark (2010) Ignites Hope In An Environmental Dystopia

2017 bared national attention yet again to the devastating effects of wildfires in California, shattering records for this particular environmental disaster. A science fiction short film, Spark forsees the definitive end in the escalation of the damage through the eyes of a young lady, while hands frantically gather belongings and loved ones hug with the images of smolder and decay in the background, says that she's seen the end of the world.

The authorative voice is Very (Christine Romulus), displaced from those she knows in a typical high school classroom accentuated by  what seems to be preventative uniforms and  advanced tech screens as study aides in front of each student. Surrounded by "gas bag attitudes" who prove to be beyond her worst impressions, she finds a fellow outcast in Asher (Danny Flaherty) and further adventure with a pair of intensely philosophical rebels Vault (Jason Dyer) and Suze (Britt Lower) that provide some exposition of a world dramatically effected by fire. What Very uncovers by going along for the ride is order in the chaos and chaos in the order. There's a community that believes in each other, that notes that when the world is truly at its physical worse, some can and do come together to reverse the ugliness of the conditions not only on the outside but even within. Spark privileges this poetic foursome because of their qualities as renewal: not to be punny, but they in fact are the spark of a revolution that's goal is to replenish the earth, not from destruction but in creation.

Director Bridget Palardy has a way of making her films feel like one big hug that washes away some of our own insecurities. Her AFI Directing Workshop fantasy jewel OowieWanna (2013) was a critical co-sign on self-acceptance, in a laundromat with puppets and Karen Black. Yes, that Karen Black. Spark relies on less whimsicality but is in equal measure is just as captivating, with a rippling impact strengthened by the use of sound, a color palate that surrenders to the earth known in its most melancholic form, and Romulus' delivery as an aftermath of the devastation looking for the emotional strength to move forward.

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