“Past Forward” is an experimental short film collaboration between fashion designer Miuccia Prada and writer/director David O. Russell (“American Hustle,” “The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook”).
Describes as a “cinema poem,” the surreal, silent dreamscape features multiple actors replaying scenes in varying combinations, resulting in scenarios, characters, costumes, genres, and endings that repeat and morph, eschewing a conventional narrative, leaving the viewer to decode the experience.
Russell and Prada came up with the idea during a dinner conversation about an artist she was visiting in New York City.
Per Russell: “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. This, in turn, moved to a conversation about the nature of time, and how many selves or experiences one inhabits, and where beauty lives — in memories, sounds, fragments of old movies, paintings — layers of time, layers of identity, layers of memory, the future as imagined or lived in a movie or in life. This led to thinking about this project, and what could be created or expressed: a series of raw ideas. What cinema is, what memory is, what life is, what dreams are these are all related… Mrs. Prada offered me the chance to make a cinema piece, like a dream, fueled by strange mystery, suspense, fear, danger, beauty, conflict, romance, love, identity, and time. Here was the opportunity to make a journey of cinema guided by layers of movie memories, life images and emotions, with no aim except to create art — as if it were a painting or a sculpture — free from normal narrative or audience expectations. The cast and I worked simply for the joy of making art.”
Unfolding more like an episode of “Black Mirror” (the anthology series that features speculative fiction with dark and satirical themes that examine modern society), “Past Forward” is set in a futuristic, Hitchcockian world, and stars Allison Williams, Kuoth Wiel, and Freida Pinto as three women whose lives crisscross seamlessly in what can only be described as 13 minutes of a decadently surreal fever dream – a tumble down a rabbit hole of concepts that Russell outlines in the quote above.
Also appearing in the short film are Paula Patton, Sinqua Walls, Jason and Garry Clemmons.
Ultimately, it’s a 13-minute ad for Prada.
Watch it below: