Film – Index Zero


Steve Taylor-Bryant views the dystopian vision of Lorenzo Sportiello’s debut feature film, Index Zero...

Lorenzo Sportiello is a music video and advertising filmmaker from Italy, who has picked quite a subject matter to bring his debut feature to the big screen. Set in the near future of 2035, the United States of Europe has decreed that natural childbirth is illegal and has cut themselves off from the sprawling, dystopian wasteland by huge border walls, leaving those humans outside the border that they deem “unsustainable”. Young married couple Kurt (Simon Merrells – Judas Ghost) and Eve (Ana Ulara - Serena) are expecting a baby and, for the sake of the child, want to cross the border into the United States of Europe despite having lived their entire lives in the barren world outside the boundary walls. After a break in attempt goes wrong, Kurt and Eva are caught by the authorities and transferred to a High Security complex where they are tested for suitability on the Sustainability Index. Kurt passes and is allowed entry but pregnant Eve fails, the unborn baby marked as a drain of government resources, and is set to be deported. Can Kurt get back to Eve and save his family?

Let’s get a few negatives out of the way first. This is not an original story, more a mish-mash of various ideas that have been seen or written before, and you can see in some parts where the obvious constraints have hampered Sportiello’s vision.

However…

Familiar is not always a bad thing. The story, whilst taking lots of ideas from projects that have come before, flows nicely and the way Sportiello uses his video and advertising background to shoot the film, blending light and mood, adds to an aesthetically pleasing final delivery. Merrells and Ulara work well together and make you root for Kurt and Eve and, at times, my emotions got the better of me which is all you can hope for in a film really. The mood and colouring throughout the entire film also added a distinct tone to a dystopia that other filmmakers may not have used and Sportiello certainly has an eye for bringing drama to life.

Will the film, doing the festival circuit at the moment, give Sportiello the exposure his obvious talent needs? Most definitely and I can imagine a scenario where a bigger studio picks up the director and ask for a remake of Index Zero with a better budget a la Neill Blomkamp who took his Joburg short film and ended up producing the critically acclaimed District 9. Will the film itself garner the audience it deserves on the festival circuit though? Probably not but I am certainly a happier man for having had a glimpse into what Sportiello can produce.

Should Index Zero earn worldwide distribution then it would certainly deserve your money spent on watching it. Sadly I can’t see that happening for now, as the premise may just be too familiar for some bigger companies.

Image - Index Zero

Index Zero plays at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on 20th June and 21st June at Cineworld, Edinburgh.