Ela Gavrila’s 16-minute Genre INC. is a sci-fi that explores constructed, corporate mediated personal realities. Co-written by Gavrila and Gabriel Molnar, its protagonist is a young woman who repeats evening after evening that she is a hopeless romantic. Her companion listens, but never speaks.
Alexa’s (Gavrila) daily loop is presented in two versions. In the first, the audience views the proceedings as an entity external to it. In the second, the audience is incorporated into the world. The basics are thus: at 8 p.m. everyday, at the ring of the alarm, Alexa takes a pill(s) from a little bottle, which never contains more than what she ingests. A perfectly sterile corporate setup within a little container, at odds with the rest of her cozy home. The evening is spent in the company of an non-verbal but perfectly pleasant man. The days pass by a lake. Alexa draws, sets paper swans afloat on the water, and bleeds heavily from the nose. And repeat.
The first evening, the companion we see is not human. We are looking in from the outside, and thus, the man is a mannequin with a hollow, sparkly head. She holds a lively conversation and dances with vigour, but it is a sorry sight. The second version, on the other hand, inducts the audience right in. The man (Alex, played by Vlad Logigan), then, is a charming companion, who delights Alexa and meets her step for step. They laugh, they dance, they play. It is the picture of young, happy love. The camera closes the distance it had maintained in the first half, giving the audience a sudden closeup of their hands.
The lake is an unsettling site that the film skilfully reveals over the course of the narrative. Clusters of floating paper swans stretch out wide over the waters, a marker of each day thus spent. By juxtaposing this evidence of repetition with the happy couple on the dock, the film better reinforces the constructedness of Alexa’s reality than its next attempt soon after.
Alexa relives the same set of experiences over and over, her memories now the property of the company whose services she has procured. Genre INC. generally paints by the numbers, yet certain thoughtful choices make this sci-fi worthwhile.
Watch Genre INC. Short Film Trailer
Genre INC.: Programmed Experiences and Their Unsettling Recycle Bin