'The Gift': A Russian Sci-Fi Mini Thriller With a Twist

A mysterious box sparks mayhem among men and robots in The Gift, a short film directed by Carl Erik Rinsch. The film was made for Philips Cinema's Parallel Lines film series, but it transcends the limitations of branded content and short fiction in general -- not to mention the usual sci-fi clichés. 

Apparently, Philips gave the directors complete creative freedom, but there was one catch: they all had to use the same dialogue

"What is that?" 
"A Unicorn."
"Never seen one up close before."
"Beautiful."
"Get away. Get Away."
"I'm sorry."

Other films in the competition used these lines in more literal ways (watch them here), but The Gift stands out. Using Moscow's snowy vistas as a backdrop for computer-generated effects by Big Lazy Robot vfx, the film does a lot with a little. The film came out in 2010, and went on to win top advertising awards at the Cannes Lions advertising festival. /Film has an interesting, but non-embeddable, video interview with Rinsch here, as well as more information about the director's next project, 47 Ronin, a feature film starring Keanu Reeves. It seems like there's lots more to come from Ridley Scott's protégé.

For more films from the Philips Cinema series, visit the YouTube channel

Thanks to J. J. Gould for the video.

Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg joined The Atlantic in 2011 to launch its video channel and, in 2013, create its in-house video production department. She leads the development and production of original documentaries, interviews, and other video content for The Atlantic. Previously, she worked as a producer at Al Gore’s Current TV and as a content strategist and documentary producer in San Francisco. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University.

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