Two sci-fi films with different twists on dystopian futures made the Anthem Film Festival a scary place. The Pilgrim, winner of the festival’s Audience Choice Award, by filmmaker Sean Buttimer, creates a global-warming-freaks-gone-wild world dominated by EPA bureaucrats. Silver Circle, by Pasha Roberts, takes us into a world where individual rights are crushed by an out-of-control Federal Reserve Bank. Despite the bleak futures portrayed, the films do offer hope.
Both films owe a debt to George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. Like Orwell’s protagonist Winston Smith, the heroes of both The Pilgrim and Silver Circle see something they shouldn’t have and this starts them on the road to thought-crimes and more.
The Pilgrim takes its inspiration from the US Supreme Court decision of 2007 which ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had a legal right to classify carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant and regulate it. In director Buttimer’s world, the EPA has moved on from regulating the CO2 coming out of cars to regulating the CO2 we exhale.
For those of you for whom seventh grade Science class may be a dim memory: We breathe in oxygen and create CO2, which we exhale. Plants absorb the CO2, and then emit oxygen which we can breathe again. Now everyone hum “Circle of Life”.
In The Pilgrim, the government forces everyone to wear special gas masks when outside in order to filter the nasty CO2 from their breath. While in buildings, filtration systems protect the atmosphere. Another way the government helps in Buttimer’s film is that you no longer have to deal with the IRS. Instead, before leaving work with your paycheck, you visit the Revenue Office which evaluates your personal situation and decides how much of your paycheck you get to keep (and whether your life is still of any value to society).
Ultimately, the protagonist of The Pilgrim does not save the world, but he does take the first step. The film is well directed, has a noir feel to it, and packs a lot of through provoking “what ifs” into its fifteen minutes. I’m looking forward to seeing more from Sean Buttimer.
If you’ve ever bought an “End The Fed” t-shirt then you’ll find plenty to like in Silver Circle, Pasha Roberts’ full-length animated drama about a world dominated by the Federal Reserve Bank.
I know. Some of you are thinking, “Isn’t the world already dominated by the Fed?” Not like it is in Silver Circle. In this version of the future, the government has moved on from stabilizing the money-supply to stabilizing the housing market by confiscating homes and keeping them empty. If people resist having their homes taken, they are branded terrorists.
The protagonist of the film is Federal Reserve Investigator Jay Nelson. While investigating arson of Fed controlled homes, Nelson becomes aware of a resistance movement, and begins to question the legitimacy and morality of the agency for which he works.
As I watched the story, I kept thinking “I wish they had made this a live-action film, not an animation.” The script is excellent and the characters are believable, but the animation is not even up to Saturday morning standards. The characters all move like they have arthritis.
There seems to be one gap in the plot. The anti-Federal Reserve rebels are coining their own money – Silver Circles. (For those of you who think this is a crazy idea, it’s already happening: check out bitcoins.) The film doesn’t explain where they are getting the silver to do this.
The next day, at his FreedomFest booth, I asked director Pasha Roberts about this. He assured me it would be explained in the sequel. As for the animation, he said, “It is what it is.” Maybe part two will be better.
If you are a Ron or Rand Paul fan, this film is for you. Silver Circle is available on video on demand.