Set in the not-too-distant future, the near-extinction of bees has left society on the brink of implosion. With scarcely a hive in sight, we follow a man known only as N, the director of a honey manufacturing plant who must now peddle a purely artificial product. One day, after an incident involving an actual bee, N tastes real honey for the first time and his life is irrevocably altered. With a newfound apian affixation, N and his partner L embark on an outlandish quest to bring down everything that might endanger their beloved bees, targeting genetically modified crops, media conglomerates and corporate lackeys. Quickly drawing the ire of the local authorities, like an environmentally activated Bonnie and Clyde, their actions grow increasingly radical and unhinged.
Formally inventive, Zero is an endearing homage to a range of diverse cinematic styles; infusing elements of silent-cinema, melodrama, hard-bodied action tropes and even African ethnographic road film, with an incendiary art design featuring experiments with black-and-white, comic-strip inserts and madcap sonic flourishes in a film mostly devoid of dialogue.
“The narrative has both a low-fi, almost Michel Gondryesque approach to flights of fancy and a constant dreamlike quality from the start… A low-budget angry environmental pamphlet and a genre parody rolled into one.” - Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter
The second EFFA Up Late session in this year’s program, Zero is a singular, mind-meltingly absurdist trip that demands to be seen up late and on the big screen.
Inspired by Einstein’s famous quote that “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left,” director Gyula Nemes offers an at times witty, sex-fuelled and completely off-the-wall vision of one man’s bizarro-battle to save our bees.
Like nothing you have seen before or are likely to see again, Zero was shot on sumptuous 35mm and stars renowned cult actor Udo Kier, and offers a whimsical yet playfully intelligent take on our society of consumption, the prospect of ecological utopias and the inevitable natural disasters that await us.