Decal will release GAIA in theaters June 18th, 2021 and on demand June 25th, 2021
Directed by Jaco Bouwer
Written by Tertius Kapp
Starring Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Anthony Oseyemi, Alex van Dyk
An injured forest ranger on a routine mission is saved by two off-the-grid survivalists. What is initially a welcome rescue grows more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest. When their cabin is attacked by a strange being it’s clear there is a far greater threat in this unrelenting wilderness.
It is sometimes difficult to keep contemplating and discussing the issues we face regarding the continuation of life on this planet, as we pollute the oceans, cause mass deforestation and release ever-increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to an increase in temperature, turbulent weather and hurtling the planet towards crisis.
A week into filming, production was halted due to the outbreak of COVID. We had to stop filming and were only able to pick up 3 months later. Suddenly what was fiction became a strange form of reality and a pre-apocalyptic film started to resonate more with cast and crew. We experience a searing grief and horror when the collapse flickers into view. We find it very difficult to contemplate, to think the unthinkable, to navigate the almost unbearable feelings which arise in each of us.
I don’t think the performances in Gaia would’ve had the same emotional undercurrent if it wasn’t for the pandemic and its interruption into our work. My vision, to construct a paranoid chamber piece about trust, betrayal, and survival, was subconsciously fed by this new, added sense of fear and uncertainty during that first outbreak of the Coronavirus in the beginning of 2020.
Gaia became a portrait of theological paranoia: what is to become of humanity once it discovers it has been expelled from Eden? Or, even more: that Eden itself has expelled it, turned against it, and is taking its revenge? In a sense, it’s are verse horror film – the outside world is scary, but the real enemy is inside. Straddling the line between fantasy and reality, we are left to wonder how much of the characters’ monstrous vision of nature is real, and how much is a psychotic vision. Their descent into madness is a desire for chaotic salvation, a desire to become animals,a gospel that replicates like a disease.
Here lies the core of the film. Gaia is an ecological horror, a survivalist drama which unfolds into a Biblical horror resonating with the Abrahamic tale of The Binding. Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac is a potent metaphor of the current state of the politics of ecology. Humanity, empowered to alter the world in ways thought impossible before, is led by a generation fully prepared to sacrifice its own offspring.