“Ava – There is a truth behind the truth”
The last humans blindly follow an inviolable providence until Ava repudiates it and starts fighting for love and freedom.
Ava (12) grows up in the safe and caring environment of her family oasis on a desert planet. It’s all as “Providence” has designed it to be – just Ava’s strange visions need to be kept hidden from Moira, the spiritual leader of the planet. This works until grown-up Ava refuses the union with her destined “tekka” – a violation of the inviolable “Providence” and thus, Ava’s death warrant. Only thanks to her father does Ava manage to escape to the lethal desert.
She is rescued from her distress by Phineas, a mysterious and cultivated young man. After cautiously getting acquainted, they coalesce in the act of love. Phineas, Moira’s foster son and her chosen successor, and Ava, under sentence of death, are now on the run together. This union was never supposed to happen after all.
However, their love is put to the test when Ava’s vision turns out to be a glimpse into the subconscious of the respective person opposite her. By means of a simple touch, Ava is able to recover the elders’ “deleted” memories of the world before the “Great Storm.” Soon, Ava is declared an omniscient seer and is crowded by devoted followers. A new tribe is formed in which love and freedom are preferred to strict obedience and total submission.
What Ava doesn’t know: only people who are a perfect genetic match are allowed to coalesce to ensure the survival of the human species in the lethal desert. Moira reminds Phineas of the existential task of pairing – and thus drives a wedge between the two lovers. Phineas returns to Moira, chastened and ready to stop Ava along with her “new tribe.”
For Ava, however, the newly found freedom isn’t negotiable and she’s prepared to defend it with her life. Too late does she realize that her actions nearly lead the entire human race into the abyss.
2050: Everything foretold since Greta Thunberg (and even earlier) actually happened. The sea levels flooded metropolises, burning hot landscapes led to militant mass migrations, food and drinkable water became scarce, civilizations collapsed; in a nutshell: humanity crossed the point of no return as the “Blue Planet” wasn’t habitable any longer.
A small community had seen it coming. However, despite their wealth, the founding couple and following had their backs against the wall. Consequently, they withdrew from the world. They built greenhouses, they were vegan, they neither had pets nor livestock, they didn’t believe in private property anymore – and yet, the apocalypse wasn’t going to spare them, no matter how great the efforts of this tight-knit community.
2060: The community’s capital was increased by the scientific elite: astrophysicists, engineers, AI-geniuses, genetic engineers, anthropologists, you name it, all arrived on the scene. And indeed: a small astronomical window opened that offered the opportunity to settle a new planet – “Project Ark” began, and the founding couple had a daughter: Moira.
After orbiters built a water system on the new planet by means of robotics, the resources only sufficed for the construction of one last space cargo carrier that could hold up to 50 human beings only. A new world of the “purest of the pure.” But time was running out and thus the “perfect” genes had to be found outside of the community. Young, healthy people were chosen and had to leave their environments. With their consent, their memories were erased. Instead of memories of Earth, they were fed the story of the “Great Storm” so the grief for their families that were left behind and their destroyed home wouldn’t have a negative impact on the future.
Only they, the good seeds, would spring to make the “new Earth” fertile. The future choice of partner wouldn’t be a random coincidence but an intuitive choice made by the leader – or so they claimed.
Moira, now a young woman, had already found her domestic happiness of a partner and child. Yet, Moira’s genes were flawed, just like the ones of her loved ones; hence, her family wasn’t assigned a place on the ark. But who was supposed to take the lead now? Moira was the most promising and most rational candidate. She was given a choice: to die together with her child and husband; or, to leave them behind and become the lonely leader of the new planet.
Moira was taken aside and informed about the mathematical necessity of the alleged “Providence.” Else, the new population would drift into a “genetic bottleneck,” which they wouldn’t survive based on anthropological research. The “new religion” was thus based on scientific evidence.
With Moira, the last memories of the old world were supposed to dissolve. She was tasked with passing on the teachings of the “Tenets of the Pedigree” to the smartest of the newborns – her successor – in order to ensure the survival of humanity via targeted coupling even beyond her own death.
Rumors about Project Ark spread and a mob besieged the base while the chosen ones were already put in a deep sleep for the journey. The launch of the Ark succeeded just in time before the onslaught. The journey to the new planet had begun.
2094 became year zero of the history of mankind.
Anthropological evidence of the thought experiment
The ideal pairing of two individuals from a given population is one in which their immune systems complement each other perfectly. Thus, their offspring are well equipped against disease. Even now, it is theoretically possible to genetically manipulate a population’s reproduction to optimize the hardiness of the potential offspring.
Based on Philip Stephens, biologist, Durham University
The thought experiment
A catastrophe obliterated all human beings – only two survived, a man and a woman. Could those two repopulate Earth? Theoretically, it is not impossible, albeit highly unlikely, according to British biologist Philip Stephens of Durham University. Even if there was enough sustenance, the temperatures were mild and there weren’t any threats whatsoever, the chances would be slim. The biggest peril for the two terrestrials in this scenario: incest.
If the man and the woman procreate, their children would be siblings, naturally. If the brothers and sisters of that generation pair, the probability of their offspring having genetic defects increases. Consequently, the fertility rate decreases, the death rate increases. The reproductive performance of the population would decline, according to Kay Prüfer of the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. It is what experts call “inbreeding depression.” Prüfer agrees that it is quite unlikely that only one man and one woman could be the source of a new mankind.
When the number of individuals of a population decreases, for instance, due to a natural disaster, the genetic diversity of this population also decreases. Biologists call this a genetic bottleneck. The bigger the population, the higher the chances of one of the individuals being immune to certain pathogens. Vice versa, the smaller the population, the more prone it is to confounding factors.
Surviving the evolutionary bottleneck
Under certain circumstances, a small number of people could start a new global population, indeed. The few individuals and their offspring would have to conceive as many children as possible for the population to survive the bottleneck. If only highly genetically fitted individuals prevail, the population is able to recover from the inbreeding depression. Experts speak of Genetic Purging here. Since the genetic variability of the human race is comparatively low, scientists assume that humanity underwent several bottlenecks in their evolution. However, there are different theories on this discourse.
How many people would be necessary?
To recap: Realistically speaking, one couple does not suffice to repopulate Earth. How many people would it take then? Scientists can only speculate. Philip Stephens from Durham University estimates between 500 and 5000 individuals, at least – unless mankind would determine (or avoid) its own pairing through genetic manipulation. In the latter thought experiment, as outlined by Stephens, a population of about 40 individuals would already suffice as long as they would exhibit a maximal genetic diversity predefined by selection.
“Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Especially in difficult times like these, we keep returning to the same questions: Why? Will mankind ever be able to break the cycle of suffering and fear? What’s the deeper meaning behind those injustices we see day in and day out? Or, what’s the source of goodness, beauty, and expansion?
To me, it’s clear that essentially, there are only two possibilities how a human being can handle a situation, even their entire life: Either we act out of love or we act out of fear. Fear leads to anger, hate, resentment, war, suffering, and perdition. Love leads to forgiveness, mercy, and trust. But aren’t acts of true love strongest when they are accomplished through pain? Can we, the human race, even understand happiness without having experienced its opposite?
I don’t think that it’s possible to grasp life in its outright complexity, but it is possible to accept it and to trust in it. We have no choice but to do whatever it takes to make ourselves and the world around us just a little bit better by deciding every single day to act out of love instead of fear.
That’s why I don’t want to work with a classic antagonist in Waters of Forgetfulness, but I’d like to show where actual antagonism is born: in ourselves. Only if we recognize and overcome our own inner antagonist, are we able to understand the bigger picture and to not look for others to blame.
Ava allows herself to be led by her emotions, unwilling to act against her intuition. Even though she fights for the right to experiences as well as to love, and freedom, she is first and foremost driven by her own ego. Moira, on the other hand, acts rationally. She saw the suffering, she made sacrifices, and she knows that freedom doesn’t matter once pain emerges. She’s thus superior to Ava’s juvenility. Moira might see the bigger picture, but she has forgotten that it is deviation and perceived flaws that make humans human.
Ava and Moira are Yin and Yang. In the end, they unite, and Ava emerges as a new Moira. Both stand for an eternal cycle, darkness and light in perfect harmony.
In the end, the question remains: Is the mere survival of the human race worth suppressing our intuition? And if there’s nobody left to mourn us, whose loss would it be?
In our film, we create the image of a civilization that seems strange at first sight, where people operate in a seemingly underdeveloped society. They live without modern technology, communication systems or weapons, but with the promise of a peace-loving, open and diverse community that aims at nothing less than the preservation of humanity. However, this goal will only be achieved through renunciation, hard work and strict genetic selection.
This vision of a relatively real future and the socially relevant and timeless issues behind it led me to support Jessy Moravec's feature film debut. The fact that she didn't go to film school doesn't discourage me, as Jessy Moravec has years of directing and producing experience even so. And the collaboration so far over the last two years shows me that I was not mistaken. Jessy Moravec knows exactly what she wants and together we will find suitable answers for all challenges.
So it's not about explaining to Jessy how to set up a production or work out a scene, but about helping her to realize her vision in the best possible way. This is what I am committed to do and I know that I have the artistic and production experience to successfully and purposefully support Jessy Moravec in her debut film.
I am very much looking forward to the upcoming challenges and encounters that await me for this project. As with all my previous productions, I will work closely with the director on "Waters Of Forgetfulness" when it comes to personnel, artistic or technical aspects. Because only together with the main cast and the heads of department we will be able to realize an outstanding and unique film. And that is what "Waters Of Forgetfulness" should and will become.