Pandora Cinematheque – The Gift


This fast-paced and slightly creepy dystopian robot sci-fi short may leave more questions than answers, but overall it doesn’t disappoint.


Set in Moscow at some undermined point in the future, a courier delivers a mysterious box, and upon seeing the contents kills the owner and tries to take it for himself. The robot valet of the house, a beautiful and yet porcelain-passive faced machine, retrieves the box and attempts to flee with the precious cargo.

Drawing influences from lots of sci-fi sources, including Akira, iRobot, and District 9, the film stands up pretty well, and it looks good at a stately (for CGI anyway) five years old. The director, Carl Erik Rinsch went on to helm other films such as 47 Ronin and came very close to directing the Aliens(-but-totally-wasn’t-Aliens-apparently) prequel, which ultimately was reclaimed by the original director Ridley Scott (I for one wasn’t too impressed with Prometheus and would have been interested to see what Rinsch might have done with it).

The film was made in conjunction with Phillips as part of a film festival that showcased five promising new directors, the only condition that the dialogue at some point contain the words ‘It’s a unicorn.” Strange motivation, but I’m not complaining when such a fun film was built around this curious premise.


Although the significance of the unicorn is never discovered, nor how it is created from a single strand of carefully stored hair, it nevertheless is a crafted part of the texture of the whole film, the gritty streets, the ornate designs on the robot’s carapace, the complex machine-work of the box itself as it unfolds and opens. As we see the box change hands as it moves through the film; from courier, to wealthy recipient, to robot – so too do we see the city change with it, from the minimalism of train stations and plazas manned by totalitarian-looking guards, to wealthy condo and dirty snow-clad streets. It’s a really rich and sumptuous piece of work.

But never mind all that… more importantly, where can I buy that cool box from?

Enjoy short films? Check out more of our Pandora Cinematheque collection here.


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