These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.
FIRST PRIZE | Quantum Shorts 2020
Humans of the future have deciphered the secrets of quantum physics, seeding life in micro-universes, yet face an existential threat in their own universe. Director Sitoh Ortega presents the last message of this civilisation, recorded by one of its inhabitants.
Fascinated by very small particles? Read the different views and perspectives of physicists on the question ‘What is a particle?’: https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-is-a-particle-20201112/
Please tell us about yourself and the team that made the film
The team for our short film is very small. My name is Sitoh Ortega and I am a musician, photographer and director. Above all, I am dedicated to composing film scores. Amada Santos is the actress in the short film. She, in addition to being an actress, is a director and screenwriter.
How did you come up with the idea for your film?
The origin of this short film was a dream. I dreamt that scientists had managed with sophisticated techniques to enter and visualise the world of particles. Commentators on TV said that perhaps this technology could save us from the imminent catastrophe that was going to happen, because many physical laws were going to be rewritten (in the dream there was no mention of which catastrophe in particular).
This short film is not intended to be existential, nor is it about death or the fear of dying or anything like that. The screenplay is just a way to tell what interested me: the possibility of traveling to particles and comparing that small infinity with the infinity of space. For me, that is the message of the short film. It is true that the story is told through the five stages of grief: Negation, anger, negotiation, depression and acceptance, but this is a dramatic resource to get to the essence of the subject.
What do you hope to show in the film?
The short film is based only on my fantasy of being able to travel through particles just like we do through space. My intention is to show those dimensions, from the smallest to the largest. In the end, there is another world that also observes the world where the action takes place, which does not pretend to be the Earth.
What makes you interested in quantum physics?
Since I was little, the issue of ‘size’ has attracted my attention as the universe is infinite. I have always wondered: if the universe is infinite towards space, could not it also be towards particles? But it was the 2004 documentary What The Bleep Do We Know!? that got me interested the most. I'm just an amateur but I probably would have devoted myself to physics if I had not been an artist.
Please share with us an interesting detail about you how made the movie.
We shot the film during times of confinement due to the pandemic and without financial resources. It was shot at home, and we illustrated some scenes with NASA’s royalty-free public resource bank for scientific audiovisuals. Having no financial means and having to shoot in one place, it took intense post-production work to make the story credible. Then came the composition of the music, which was one of the most fun processes for me.
We have introduced small tributes as when naming systems and particles in a fictional planet, we have used the names of Higgs or Planck written backwards.
What is your favourite science-inspired or sci-fi movie?
My favourite movies are Interstellar (2014) and Tenet (2020) by Christopher Nolan and Contact (1997) by Robert Zemeckis, based on the book by Carl Sagan. I also like the documentaries Cosmos (1980) by Carl Sagan and What The Bleep Do We Know!? (2004).
What does being a Quantum Shorts finalist mean to you?
Personally, being a finalist in this festival is very special because of its theme. We are very happy and grateful that this idea made with the heart has gone so far.