It was last week that independent film production company A24 released a mysterious trailer with no title, credits or release date for a film that looked like it was squarely in the realm of science fiction. Despite speculation that it was a teaser for a new movie from well-regarded indie director Shane Carruth (Primer) or someone else along those lines, now the truth about the clip has been discovered.
It turns out that the movie in question is actually a short film called Toru that's going to premiere at this month's Sundance Film Festival. The Film Stage noticed that a photo accompanying the film's Sundance programming info matched the visuals of the trailer, and after that it was just a matter of searching for more stills from the movie using the title.
Directed by Jonathan Minard and Scott Rashap, the 14-minute film is in Japanese with English subtitles and tells the story of a baby boy named Toru who is dying of a fatal lung disease. With Toru only able to live for a few more days, his parents submit him for a trial experiment in which one can experience a simulated full life in the same short time frame (sounds a little like the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Inner Light"). Toru lives his simulated life as a boy named Todd who grows up in New England, although the film apparently concludes in a Japan of the future (the synopsis was published by Wicked Local while the film was being shot).
What's interesting about all this is that studios don't often pick up short films for distribution, let alone launch a viral campaign for them, so there may be more to the story than meets the eye. It could be that A24 have snapped up the film with the idea of having Minard and Rashap expand it to feature length, or the company might have hired the directors for a different project and intends to use Toru as a demonstration of their talents.
We'll still have to see if either of those scenarios unfold, but for now it looks like the only way to see Toru is if you're headed to Sundance (the trailer is repeated below).
Are you disappointed that -- for the moment -- this is not a new genre film from the studio that gave us Ex Machina, The Witch and many others?