Weekly Web Series Review: Futurestates

“A minute ago, this moment was the future. A minute from now, everything could change.” So says the website for “Futurestates,” an intriguing web series from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), and this is a pretty good mission statement for the series. A collection of unconnected short films by various writers and directors, “Futurestates” explores the not-too-distant future by looking at what is already happening in the world today, from immigration issues to environmental and economic ones. Some of the shorts begin by informing the audience exactly what year it is in which their stories take place, while others do not. Many of them feel as if they could be happening in the present, and this is clearly an intention of the filmmakers behind them.

Amyn Kaderali‘s “The Other Side” thrusts the viewer into the year 2040, after “everything changed,” as Jeff (Brady Smith) puts it when explaining what a cheeseburger is to his young son, Tyler (Jake Short). Along with his sister, Jenny (Abigail Mavity), Tyler is traveling the desert with his father in search of access to the other side, across a border protected by the government. This short film explores the issue of illegal immigration in an unusual and effective way, casting it in a new perspective that might make a viewer think twice about his or her own views on the issue. Annie J. Howell‘s “Tia and Marco,” on the other hand, explores the same issue in a more heavy-handed and obvious way, which offers little justification for its 2025 setting.

Garret Williams‘ “The Rise” and Aldo Velasco‘s “Tent City” both explore the current housing crisis in very different ways, with “The Rise” ultimately touching on environmental issues more than economic ones, while Tze Chun‘s “Silver Sling” manages to comment on a number of current issues, including immigration, economic desperation and fertility technology. Now in its third season, “Futurestates” has many such issues to explore, and a panoramic array of viewpoints from which to explore them. Below is perhaps the most unique and original short film from the series’ first season, Ramin Bahrani‘s “Plastic Bag,” featuring legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog as the title character.


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