During awards season, there are multiple opportunities for filmmakers and journalists to engage in cinema dialogue. Usually, studios will offer talent connected to films that are being pitched for awards’ consideration. During the pandemic, these events (film junkets) have transitioned to a virtual model allowing more journalists from around the world to connect with film artists. On occasion, Open Dialogue will offer some of these interactions between Elements of Madness partners/contributors and the filmmakers in a new form, Q-Bits. Today we talk with Oscar-winner George Clooney, director and star of The Midnight Sky.
Set in the future, The Midnight Sky is a sci-fi drama set against the backdrop of a global extinction event on earth. George Clooney stars as Dr. Augustine Lofthouse, a famous scientist, who has chosen to spend his last days, his last remaining breaths, embarking on a death-defying mission to save what’s left of humanity.
It is a tale of two families; astronauts from the spacecraft Aether, are returning to earth after finding another planet capable of sustaining human life, while Lofthouse and a young girl traverse the treacherous Arctic landscape in search of a scientific outpost capable of warning the space crew that the home they once knew … is lost.
Noel T. Manning II: I found The Midnight Sky to be a film of art; it is one for critical thinking, and it spoke to me about our actions and inactions … and exploring what matters with the time we’re given. Augustine’s emotional pain in the first six minutes was completely immersive, and I felt the weight on his shoulders. Mr. Clooney, How does this film speak to you about our world, our hopes, and our willingness to sacrifice?
George Clooney, director and star, The Midnight Sky: Hey Noel. It is all of those things.
When I was first sent the script and read it, my first reaction was this is us having to come to terms with what we’re capable of doing to one another if we don’t pay attention.
I grew up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and in school we had to do ‘duck and cover’ drills; I grew up in a place where it wasn’t if, but it was when we’d blow the whole place up between the Soviet Union and ourselves (The United States). I grew up with this dystopian understanding of what we were capable of doing to one another, and then it kind of died off when the (Berlin) Wall came down.
Then you start to understand that we’ve politicized things like Global Warming and wearing a mask, and those things should have no business being about politics. Ultimately, the reason the movie spoke to me was that there are real conversations we should be arguing about endlessly; there are real issues in the world. We should be constantly reminding ourselves about all these things that matter, and that our being here, and democracy for that matter, are fragile and have to be reinvested in.
So I thought there was a lot of hope in this film. There was someone seeking redemption and finding it while trying to live with regret, which is a very dangerous thing to have when you’re older. It spoke to me about a lot of those issues, and I felt that it had real point of view … sort of saying, ‘It’s worth it all, this fight, it’s worth it,’ I like that; I like that argument.
Elements of Madness appreciates the opportunity to engage with filmmakers and the films they create through interviews, critical analysis, and topical engagement and open observation.
Emphasis above added by EoM.
The Midnight Sky is available on Netflix.
Noel T. Manning is a member of the CCA, SEFCA and the NCFCA and is also the host of the television program and radio show Meet Me at the Movies. He’s the founder of the Real to Reel Film Fest and is an adjunct professor of film studies. When he’s not embracing mainstream, indie, international, documentary or art films, he’s digging into the world of cinema by chatting with principle individuals involved in various aspects of the filmmaking industry.
Categories: Filmmaker Interviews