Directed by: Jens Meurer
Written by: Franziska Kramer, Jens Meurer
Starring: Florian Kaps, David Bohnett, Scott Boms, Christopher Bonanos
Country: Germany, Austria, UK
Runtime: 93 minutes
The digital age is here. Gone are the days of clutter and storage cases. The dream of the early 2000s is upon us. In contrast to this, sales of vinyl records have been on the rise over the past few years. In 2020, revenue from vinyl sales outperformed CD sales for the first time since the 80s. It seems we are living through a period where the demand for convenience is weighed against the population’s desire to connect physically with the products they consume.
Step forward An Impossible Project, which seeks to explore this physical rebirth by looking at some aspects of this conversation. The film takes us on a journey in the company of Dr. Florian Kaps, affectionately known as ‘Doc’. Doc is quite a character. So much of a character, in fact, that he dared to try to save the last Polaroid factory in the world. Yes, that Polaroid. Anyone who was alive around the early 80s will have the memory of flapping the picture you had just taken in the hope that the image burnt on the instant film would appear a millisecond earlier. There are fewer stronger memories of childhood for me than that. Doc was determined that this dream would not die. People told him it was folly. It would never work. That world was dead.
It was impossible. An Impossible Project was born.
The trials and tribulations of this ambitious startup are laid bare. The ability to make instant developing stock film was lost to both time and the world. Being able to attract quality people to work on building from the ground up should have been a major barrier but the magnetism of the Doc smoothed over many of the cracks. It did not take much of the film’s runtime to convert me from a disbeliever of the crackpot caricature of the Doc to one of admiration.
The Doc is a person who creates a maelstrom effect around them when speaking. You sit up and listen as he extolls the virtues of his beliefs. That is, that physical things carry their own sense of aura, of being. Over the runtime of the feature, he asks people what they smell when they make physical contact with items. The answers are always forthcoming as using our senses is at the very essence of being. Subsequently, the strength of Doc’s personality leads to picking up many believers along the way – including remnants of forgotten digital times. Does anyone remember Geocities?
As the film goes, it is a love letter to the world of physical things in the modern world. And as a collector of physical media, it is perhaps not surprising that this film resonated so strongly with me. A constant grin was etched on my face for most of the film’s runtime. It is a film that urges you to take stock of the world around you – the people, the buildings and the items that inhabit them. It is shot in a way that accentuates all of these. Accompanying this is a soundtrack whose musical accompaniment takes us all on a journey through numerous genres and moods. It is an essential companion piece and one that I would buy a physical release of in an instant. It includes many live recordings that accompany both the mood, themes and plot of the feature itself. Celebrating ‘things’ isn’t supposed to be an attractive part of capitalist culture but most of the western world is guilty in some regard. For a film that started as a crowd-funded passion project by filmmaker Jens Meurer, it is fitting that the film can generate strong positive emotions. For as the Doc himself says, ‘the more digital the world, the more analogue the dreams.’
An Impossible Project is available digitally to buy or rent from all major streaming store from March 15th and is a joy from start to finish.