The Weird Radar: Greatland

The Contact

One of the things that I enjoy the most about running a blog dedicated to weirdness is being contacted by and befriending other people with a similar eye for the unusual. I’ve been introduced to people through art, writing, even the occasional cheap dollar store toy.

Recently it was my appetite for strange cinema which led me to be contacted by a fellow by the name of Igor who had something truly unique to share with me. Was I interested in writing about a film called Greatland, he asked. Here is the brief summary that was included in that initial email:

Trapped in a world of perpetual fun and inter-species love ruled by a universal Mother, a teenage boy crosses the forbidden frontier to save his childhood sweetheart, as an absurd election leads to chaos and violence.

I read that several more times as the cogs in my head started turning. That’s not a film pitch you see every day, I just had to learn more. I kicked my brain into “consume” gear and headed to Greatland’s crowdfunding page over on Seed&Spark. Brief: Seed&Spark is a streaming site where you can find all manner of independent films to watch and/or support. What I learned there intrigued me even more.


The Story

Greatland is a post-modern take on Homer’s story of Ulysses set in a dystopian future. In Greatland, the birthplace of love and endless fun, humans, animals, and plants are all considered equal citizens. The current election, for example, is currently between Jörg Doberman (A Doberman pinscher.) and Cat Purry (A ragdoll cat.); I’m personally partial to ragdolls but Jörg cuts a pretty impressive image.

Now that information brought to mind an interesting question: what exactly do the people and animals eat? Is there some grim lottery going on behind the scenes? Do they take some inspiration from Soylent Green, or do the dead leave their bodies to consumption in the same way one would to science or for organ harvesting? I can’t quite wrap my head around how plants consent to anything but hey, this is a perfect society so I’m sure they have some sort of system in place.

Back on track: all citizens of Greatland share the same universal Mother, which seems to be as much a title as it is a relation. One of these citizens is Ulysses, a happy young teenager who, although having only ever communicated with Mother through a bracelet, still loves her like any good boy would. Things in his life get a “little” complicated when Ulysses turns fifteen and decides that he has true feelings for Ugly Duck (Yep, that’s her name!), the daughter of his mentor, the mute and invisible Mr. Lee. Oh right, did I mention that Mr. Lee is both mute and invisible? Yes, it’s that level of weird! Mother made him that way and it’s just one more of several things that I’d really like to know the mechanics of because Greatland is starting to sound like a hell of a party.

Without spilling too many beans, Ulysses is going to have to make that epic journey just as his namesake did before him. There will be rabbits, birch trees, escalating tensions surrounding the election race between Purry and Doberman, and a place of exile known as “Repentance Island” where Ulysses is likely to find both that which he seeks and more revelations than he may be ready for.

Something I was especially tickled by is that one of the films cited as a source of inspiration for Greatland is Un Chien Andalou. If you’re unfamiliar with it, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something really different to watch.

A thought that I had while going over all the information which was provided for me went back to a joke Ellen Degeneresas told about whichever pundit at the time claiming, “If gays are allowed to marry, next you’ll be hearing that someone wants to marry an animal.” That thought was, “What if you took a dumb claim like that and decided to have some fun with it by traveling down all the creative possibilities that could branch off and kept turning up the contrast until you had reached the absolute pinnacle of absurdity, then presented it as the social norm?”

I now wonder how close I got to one of the possible brainstorming sessions that went into this film. Even if there’s only a smidgen of such inspiration in Greatland, that’s truly some creative genius right there. 😎


Trailer


Cast & Crew

Greatland is written and directed by Dana Ziyasheva, with production by Igor Darbo and Charlie McDanger.

Greatland stars Arman Darbo and Chloe Ray Warmoth and features Eric Roberts, Nick Moran, Bill Oberst Jr., Jackie Loeb, Paige Tierney, Donzell Lewis, Ryan Simantel, Nhya Cedon, Ellen Clifford, Zach Guerrero, and Storm Wilbur.

Full casting and crew information can be found here!


Crowdfunding

As of this writing, Greatland has already achieved 55% of its crowdfunding ($11,055 of $20,000 to be split between Visual Effects and the Sound Package.) which is a great leap from when I first learn about the project a week ago. Clearly there are people just as enthusiastic as I am to explore the weird and wonderful world of Greatland and I sincerely hope that there are those among you, dear readers, that are as well.

Ideas and films like this don’t come around in the mainstream all that often but through this platform artists, writers, visionaries, and dreamers can give life to practically anything that our strange minds can think up. So if you feel so inclined, slap on a bracelet, adore your Mother, and do something a little bit Great!


Greatland Links

Support Greatland on Seed&Spark
Follow Greatland on Instagram
Follow Greatland on Facebook
Tweet Greatland @ Twitter
Subscribe to Greatland on YouTube
Greatland on IMDb


Post Updated for additional information, 11:21pm, 3/15.

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