New Strains

Year: 2023
Country: USA
Director: Prashanth Kamalakanthan, Artemis Shaw
Cast: Prashanth Kamalakanthan, Artemis Shaw
Genre: comedy, romance, sci-fi
Runtime: 78 min.
Age: 18+

A radically intimate romcom set during a recent pandemic lockdown but with a retro, twentieth-century look

Kallia and Ram are a young couple whose holiday has coincided with dark times. New York is under lockdown, and they get stuck in an uncle’s apartment, which is decorated with paintings from various periods (icons and landscapes and pop art). Scary news is all over their smartphones and TV: strains of an unknown virus can destroy the brain and turn adults into stupid children. However, only Ram is frightened, never letting go of the hand sanitiser and unwilling to leave the apartment. Kallia is dismissive of masks and often goes into the city, where she meets one of her exes. Their relationship is in crisis, like the entire planet. 
Artemis Shaw and Prashanth Kamalakanthan are scriptwriters, directors, and actors (Prashanth is also a cinematographer and editor). They are the authors of a hyper-intimate and largely improvised film shot on an old VHS camera like the one Ram and Kallia find in the apartment. This choice of visuality is suitably aesthetic: New Strains looks nothing like an amateur film. In fact, it is avant-garde in a refined way. And who could imagine that VHS format would be so good for materializing dreams and giving everyday life a particular quaintness. Inspired by a real pandemic, Artemis and Prashanth’s cinematic experiment combines novelty and naturalness in dialogues, reactions, joking around, and intimate and urban scenes. This new masterpiece won the Special Jury Award at International Film Festival Rotterdam. 

Awards & Festivals:

Rotterdam International Film FestivalTiger Award (Special Jury Award)