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Past Forward, David O. Russell’s Star-Studded Prada Short Film

The acclaimed director filmed a surreal, futuristic silent "cinema poem" in black & white


Past Forward is the multi-platform short film collaboration between Miuccia Prada and David O. Russell. A “cinema poem,” a surreal, futuristic silent dreamscape with multiple actors — the couples Allison Williams and John Krasinski, Freida Pinto and Jack Huston, Kuoth Wiel and Sinqua Walls — replaying scenes in shifting combinations. Scenarios, characters, costumes, genres, and endings repeat and morph, refusing the logic of conventional narrative and channeling Alfred Hitchcock and the forces of surrealism. Fragments of stories carved on bodies. Russell creates characters as elements of a complex collage, the viewer is left to decode what is experience, what is memory, what is dream, and discern the overlap and differences between them.

“This cinematic experiment was born of a dinner conversation with Miuccia Prada many months ago,” the director explained. “The conversation centered on an artist she was visiting in New York City. She related that he believed that in the future we will take a pill that would allow us to experience all media at exactly the same time, in one moment. I said that sounded either like a dream, or a seizure.” A reflection about the nature of time, layers of time and layers of memory that build life and cinema itself.

“What is magical and strange about cinema is also magical and strange about life. Life can be ordinary day to day, go to work, come home, etcetera, and yet at the same time it can turn strange, unexpected, surprising, suspenseful. Enemies suddenly are allies, the location and reliability of love shifts, and this is like a thriller or an adventure movie, but it’s our day-to-day life. Emotions, histories, memories, the past living in the future, the future living in the past. Different selves, including the ones we identify with in cinema, all live in our imaginations and dreams, sometimes at the same time, sometimes taking turns.”

Mystery, suspense, fear, danger, beauty, love, identity – a Dadaist dream cycling through everything from a choreographed fight sequence to making love on the beach. “Past Forward exists in multiple, interchangeable iterations as a visual and narrative experiment. Whose story is it? Is it the story a woman saw on the TV in her apartment, or is it her own memory, or is it her fantasy, or is it a dream, or is it possible for it to be all of these things?”

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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