There is an old joke about two best friends, Joe and Bill, who worry about fate. Will they be going to heaven when they shuffle off the mortal coil or eternal damnation? They make a pact that upon the demise of one, the other will return to reassure the buddy of his destiny. Joe dies suddenly, and all too young. Bill is sad, but goes on and starts to enjoy the world again. He is happy and life is really good, but he does not forget his pal and wonders if he will hear from him.
Unexpectedly, Joe calls out for Bill. Bill says, “Joe is it really you?” Joe answers yes and that he has gone to heaven. Now Bill is excited, “Joe, do you know my fate?” “Well Bill, I have some good news and some bad news.”
“First the good, you will be coming up with me.”
“And,” Bill asks, “the bad?”
“You’re making the trip tonight.”
Is this it? Is there nothing after the current existence? Even the most certain unbeliever must wonder and few fervent faithful want to leave right away. What if we find out it is true, but not what we expect?
Don Schechter, founder and president of Charles River Media Group has been giving the question some thought. With his team, it has been about four years of thought. Much of it he shared with an audience at CRMG GHQ, 15 Cypress Street in Newton Center this past Friday evening. Don’s thinking about the question has led to the short film, Ascendants, which was shown that night.
Up to now, the better aspects of the afterlife have been reserved for the righteous, or so the believers held. Eternal torment was the fate of evildoers. More recent secular ideologies have done their best to substitute a materialistic cosmology.
The movie wants to stand all that on its head. Yes, there is an afterlife, but it has nothing to do with behavior. Sinner or saint? It does not matter. A blood test will tell if you make the trip or not. The losers in the plasma lottery will not have an easy time of it.
The most poignant moment in the movie is the confrontation between Anna and Samantha. The two women appear to be life partners and have a child together. The blood test has revealed the birth mother to be an ascendant but the daughter and wife are mere biomasses, that is, not among the chosen. The mom coldly turns her back on the lesser flesh and blood.
So all the old caste conflicts have not gone away. They are probably accentuated, as there is now no figment of a “classless society.”
After the screening of the “Festival” submission version of the movie, Don answered questions in a spirited discussion. This Festival version is a prequel to a proposed TV show. Team Ascendants has done much work so far in putting together what we saw on Friday. Selling a series will be no less a challenge. As a sci-fi concept, it is one of the more original and intriguing recent ideas. You can find out more at the Ascendants website and the facebook page. There are some videos on Vimeo and you can watch the pre-release trailer embed on this page. The IMDB page lists all the cast and crew who are too numerous to mention, but certainly deserve recognition.
The night was not just about Ascendants. True, it was the official wrap party. CRMG was also celebrating ten years in business. Before showing Ascendants there was a video history of the organization. It was fun and moved along very fast, covering a lot. Don discussed it and fielded questions after it was done.
There is so much that CRMG is doing that it begs the question, even if Ascendants is funded, when will they find time to make the movie?