FANTASTIC FEST 2022: The Antares Paradox (2022)

Directed, written and filmed by Luis Tinoco — his first full-length movie — this movie is anchored by Andrea Trepat, who plays astrophysicist Alexandra Baeza. The entire film is spent with her, all in one room, as she works for SETI to find intelligent life in the universe. When a signal comes in from the Antares system, she also gets another more earthbound signal that her father is dying. Where do her loyalties lie? Toward science or family?

Alexandra receives messages from co-workers, a boss, her sister and her father as she remains inside that one room in a storm, hoping that this will be the moment that all her work gives us proof of life on other planets. Meanwhile, her father’s life slips as he sends her messages that the understands her work.

SETI has a protocol that must be followed to ensure that the message from space isn’t something human. That means that our heroine must verify everything in a very short window because her project can only use the observatory for a limited amount of time. As the rain begins to fall and winds howl, that window grows tight and her sister can’t get to be with her father as he passes, so her life is hammering her from both sides.

This movie hit me directly in the heart. So much of my life has been devoted to my work and never to many people. My own father has been dealing with dementia for the last few years and often, I find myself bound by marital and work commitments and feel like Alexandra, in a cold war as everyone works so hard to be there and you have made yourself an undependable ghost. This movie has made me consider my place not just in my world, but in the worlds of so many others.

At no time does this give you any answers, easy or hard. You’re just like you are in life, lost and adrift amongst the dust of the stars.

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