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2020 [Heléna Antonio, Italy/UK, 2020]

2020 was that year that caught up with itself. Probably not since World War II has the global community been brought so starkly into focus, and no amount of technological gimmickry or gadgetry could prepare us for the modern chaos that the Coronavirus pandemic left in its wake. Fast-forward a year later and tech-company billionaires the likes of Branson, Bezos and Musk, clearly shaken by the idea of their own mortality and bolstered by their sense of invincible wealth, hastily explore galactic escape routes from earth’s surface, leaving the rest of us mere paupers to decompose in the large carbon wasteland their respective enterprises will leave behind.

The crisis has informed the political, creative and artistic landscape profoundly. Any movie about a viral outbreak before last year would have been nothing more than entertaining popcorn fare, a “what-would-you-do” conversation-piece for you and your mates to chew on in the pub after the screening. Now, a virus-outbreak narrative is a socio-realist commentary, a historical document contextualising a world hurtling toward self-destruction at breakneck speed. And these narratives, for better or worse, are manifold.

Heléna Antonio’s 2020, although nothing like a disaster movie, is nevertheless similarly contextualised by the pandemic, a visual poem from mother to daughter, an ode to life, innocence and hope. The narrator’s voice reaches out almost as if from the future, as she speaks of her love for her child who is none the wiser to a surrounding chaos, carefully avoided and only subtly acknowledged in the film’s prologue. It is a chaos the child (like many others) will never remember, and this moment will be another grand tale confined to history and imagination.

Shot adoringly in mostly close-ups, 2020 is an honest and sentimental work that speaks mostly to its subject rather than an audience. And, whilst the upper echelons of future generations will continue to figure out ways to soar to ever new heights, personal artworks such as this will help a few remain down-to-earth.


'2020' was a film in consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2021.


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