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The world is waking up to realize that our dystopian nightmares are not some far-fetched, futuristic, sci-fi plot. The portrayals in film of the power and insidiousness of out-of-control capitalism, unregulated technological advancements, and evolving modes of social stratification are providing an essential public service. They are starting discussions on, and creating awareness of, the threats facing humanity and our planet in the near future.
“It is not hard to imagine a dystopian future where big tech companies rule the world. A world that is increasingly under their control,” said filmmaker Glen Mitku during a recent interview. “My latest film is set in 2040, with these companies competing against each other over cutting edge technologies integral to daily life. It explores the power and control that comes with dominating markets with profits larger than many countries’ GDPs.”
Glen Mitku is a New York based award-winning director and producer. He is known for making powerful, thought-provoking, original films that resonate with audiences and critics alike. Mitku’s latest film, “The Red Queen,” to be released on the indie film circuit in 2022, is a dystopian sci-fi thriller that highlights the impacts technology and those who control it, particularly artificial intelligence and brain implants, will have on society in the future.
“I think it is important to tell stories that challenge people and their perceptions of reality. I like to make people think when they watch my films, and create works that have an impact,” explained Mitku. “The sci-fi dystopian world is one of my favorite genres. I’ve always been inspired by the world building and relevance of books such as the Dune series, as well as films like ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘1984,’ and ‘Ex Machina.’ I really wanted to make a film of my own that had a similar tone to those. One that grapples with the reality of our potential near future based on current technological, social, and political trends.”
Dystopian films like “The Red Queen” have taken on an urgent quality in recent years, as their plots are being noted as more and more plausible, resonating with a broader audience. With their focus on visioning what used to be this intangible unknown full of endless possibilities, but in truth is becoming more of a window on current conditions, dystopian filmmakers are leaning into the challenge of keeping up with the rapid advancements of not only the technologies used in their own fields, but also those altering the fabric of society. Being technologically literate has come to include an awareness of what we are gaining, as well as what we are enabling or giving up in exchange for convenience and to be relevant in our social and professional lives.
This is being seen as a ripe opportunity for the medium to make an indelible mark on the future of humanity, especially the indie film scene. But what is it about indie film and filmmakers that is positioning them as change makers and thought leaders, as their well-crafted storytelling reaches across boundaries, tackling issues of global significance?
Glen Mitku is an important director and producer to follow as his extensive portfolio includes award-winning works, such as “Alone,” “Blue Diamond,” and “Nadia Jaan,” that are a testament to the visionary genius of independent cinema. Free from the creative control of executives and studio heads in Hollywood, the independent film scene has flourished in New York, which has established itself as the home of independent cinema in North America. It has been noted as the forefront of collaborative, creative filmmaking, and is the epicenter of purpose driven storytelling.
After moving to New York in 2013 from his native Italy, Mitku credits being immersed in this atmosphere as key to his artistic growth. Focusing in on what makes an exceptional visual storyteller, Mitku described his journey as “quite challenging at first, but I was as active in the community as possible, collaborating and helping friends out, going on as many indie film sets as I could. I basically worked in every crew position you could think of. I was hungry, and I wanted to learn everything.”
“That experience helped me become the director and producer I am today,” Mitku elaborated. “I learned that as the creative lead on a visionary project such as ‘The Red Queen,’ it is essential to do your research and be able to communicate with, and value, the input of your cast and crew. Remember that every crewmember knows something that you might not or has intuitively understood a way to further embody the theme of the piece. Knowing when to listen to suggestions and ultimately incorporate them into your vision is crucial.”
Mitku continued on, emphasizing the fact that achieving your goals as a filmmaker comes from valuing and nurturing constructive collaborations. Those who have worked with him believe his success comes from more than that though, shining light on his passion, expertise, and absolute absorption into a project from its inception to screening.
“Glen’s technical knowledge truly propels his work, and his love and passion for filmmaking is visually represented in every film he is a part of,” said Sheila Haya. Haya is an award winning writer, director, and producer who has collaborated with Mitku on films such as “Nadia Jaan,” “The Pulse within Us” and “Blue Diamond.”
“Working with him is a joy, he is able to listen to the team and make the best decision for the film, what the film needs, and not necessarily what one person wants. I’ve chosen to work with Glen again and again because of his professionalism and passion for the craft. He is a filmmaker to his core.”
Lucas Hogan, who has also worked with Mitku on numerous projects and is the lead actor in “The Red Queen,” echoed this sentiment. “I believe Glen’s love for film is just so profound that he will make sure that whatever he puts out in the world; it will be something worth watching,” said Hogan. “It can be entertaining storytelling or unique styles and images that will make you feel. When Glen is on set filming, he is thinking in so many ways how to make every scene special.”
While this might seem like obvious praise on the nature of what makes a good filmmaker, they are actual understatements of just how meaningful and pivotal to the success of a project they are. These are qualities that have served Mitku well, and made him an invaluable addition to the dystopian genre as his purpose driven storytelling poses essential questions that need more than just answers. They demand action.
Experts are warning that there is no profit in the current marketplace for ethical technological advances, such as artificial intelligence. With a bottom line tied directly to the amount of social pressures and control tech and big data corporations can manipulate, the capitalist ideals of maximizing profits is all but ensuring our near future will be dystopian at best. Film personalizes and simplifies esoteric ideas or concepts, elevating our thinking, making potential future scenarios relatable, and acting as stark warnings of things to come if we fail to act. Changing the dominant narrative and permeating our collective consciousness with extrapolated ‘what ifs’ may only be one line of defense, but as stated in the beginning it is an essential public service.
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