“Incredibly well focused and tight in execution... assured and strong” - Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, TWITCHFILM
Since the 1950s, Earth has been home to a select number of humans with a unique ability to communicate with extraterrestrials. Ash is one of the few remaining beings with this gift of interdimensional communication. As an interfacer, he works as a middleman between the government and the alien life that has been secretly hovering over the earth’s atmosphere since the Roswell incident. Ash relays the messages he receives from the aliens to an insensitive military agent, and otherwise spends his days wandering the barren streets of Melbourne cloaked in anonymity and disconnected from the rest of the world. Suffering from acute sensory deprivation as a result of this ability, he has been reduced to a figure on the margins of society and maintains a fragile grip on reality through his fleeting memories of a long-lost pastoral childhood. On this particular day, Ash knows a significant piece of information is about to come his way, information that could change the course of the world. Hanging by a rapidly unraveling thread of humanity, Ash must make a choice — continue to save mankind, or start saving himself.
But is Ash truly what he claims to be? Or is he the product of something more earthly, an addiction or mental illness? Through his brief encounters with a sympathetic psychiatrist and a small collection of frustrated and wounded former friends and lovers, Ash halfheartedly tries to recapture his past self, now entirely dependent on others to define his sense of humanity. Made for less than $10,000, VESSEL is a remarkably sure-footed feature debut from director Adam Ciancio. Like this year’s UPSTREAM COLOR, VESSEL uses an intricately structured sci-fi concept to explore the complex nature of basic emotions and the inexplicable process of human connection. The cold anonymity of the cityscape neatly corresponds with Ash’s own unmoored existence — cinematographer Aaron Farrugia’s darkly atmospheric visuals transform Melbourne into a sleek urban expanse of grey-tinged industrial minimalism. VESSEL is a tightly structured and exquisitely wrought meditation on the psychoses that drive us to the edge of our existence, and the beautiful dangers of the unknown universe.
— Lindsay Peters