The 13th annual Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival returns to Seattle on March 24, and we’re excited to introduce you to the creative forces behind this year’s films.
Alberto Roldán is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker with the Bureau of Ships filmmaking collective. He was a fellow for the 2015 Sundance Latino Screenwriting Project for his screenplay Motherbear. His film everything & everything & everything follows Morgan whose life is transformed when a mystical blue pyramid appears in his apartment and begins producing doorknobs. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was acquired by VICE.com.
What attracts you to science fiction and fantasy as genres?
As a viewer, broadly, these genres set my imagination on fire. At their core they provide me a feeling of possibility and mystery and knowledge and adventure in the world that very few genres do. As a creator, in addition to hoping to provide that same sense of wonder for other people, I find these genres provide the most fertile ground for metaphors about our world.
Why do you think sci-fi and fantasy continue to be such popular genres for storytellers?
For some reason talking about the fantastic, the futuristic, allows us to see ourselves more clearly. Ideas and symbols are so much more powerful than reality. They are also a lot of fun.
What inspired you to create everything & everything & everything?
This film is a combination of a bunch of different things. On a basic level, I started out trying to write the most simple story I could think of: a single character, a single day, a single location, no dialogue. But, as it turns out, I also love narrative left turns, and the best time for a narrative left turn is in a story that feels very normal, very average.
More broadly, I think I've been troubled by capitalism for a long time, and this project allowed me to put a lot of those thoughts into one place.
Your film's main conflict is focused--in a way--on door knobs. Do door knobs have any specific significance to you beyond the narrative in the film?
In an early draft of the script, the pyramid produced those little toys you get for a quarter at grocery stores—you know what I mean? Like bouncy balls or little army men. And the toys grew increasingly complex. Anyway, that didn't really work, and my good friend and close collaborator Alex Knell pointed out that the object itself had to be really mundane -- like doorknobs. And the minute she said that I knew that's what we would use.
I think it works because the things we worship are of so little value -- the doorknobs underscore that idea really nicely.
And: doorknobs are funny.
What's next for you as a filmmaker and an artist?
You know, I'm at an interesting juncture where I'm transitioning from making all my own work—totally independent, on my own—to working with producers and studios to make art and a living at the same time.
In that process I've been very troubled by the revelations about how power is abused in this industry—by Weinstein and many others—and it's been an occasion to think about what I want out of my career. It's important to me that I can retain some creative control without feeling so beholden to powerful men that I'll turn a blind eye to sexual impropriety or any other abuse of power. I'm pretty sure I have to decide now that I won't stand for it, or I'll get sucked into it, justifying it to myself slowly, bit by bit, until I'm totally underwater.
Anyway, this is a kind of long way of saying that—regardless of what kind of success the future may hold for me—I intend to keep making shorts for a very long time. That's a product I can control and make excellent all on my own, and I think having that outlet I can control will help me resist the temptation to kowtow in the face of immoral behavior.
everything & everything & everything will be part of the Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival on March 24 at Cinerama Theater.