I finally caught up with Chris Bower’s much-touted Solatrium for its official Asheville premiere at the Fine Arts Theatre—and it lives up to everything I’d heard. This hallucinatory—almost hypnotic—20-minute sci-fi short is far and away the most technically accomplished locally produced film I have seen. It is also one of the most visually striking. From beginning to end, there’s scarcely a false step in the film, which truly creates its own world in its brief running time.
Though taken from a larger project and transformed into its short-film self, there’s no sense that Solatrium is in any way incomplete or a compromise. It feels wholly organic. There’s only the most slender of stories—more a situation really—to the film, which is mostly a mood piece that takes you into the world and mind of its main character as she drifts further and further into the drug-fueled fantasies that are meant to combat boredom and loneliness in deep-space travel. That’s it, but as a mood piece, this is heady stuff. It’s a pretty remarkable work and deserves to be seen.
Accompanying Solatrium is Daniel Judson’s 2005 student film, The Transmission, to round out the program.