SPOILERS FOR GRAVITY BELOW!
Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is a box office juggernaut with a to-date gross of $367.3 million worldwide. Needless to say, Gravity is a hit! Remember that scene in the film where Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on the Chinese shuttle and she picks up a mysterious signal? Jonás Cuarón, the film’s co-screenwriter, made a short film about what was happening on the other side of that conversation called Aningaaq. It follows an Inuit fisherman named Aningaaq (Orto Ignatiussen) who makes contact with Dr. Stone as she’s orbiting the Earth.
Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón talked to Kristopher Tapley of HitFix.com’s In Contention blog about the Aningaaq short film. The two-sided sequence has Stone and Aningaaq sharing “thoughts of life and death, love and loss, and choices that are as defining as they are inescapable,” even though neither can understand the other. While the short didn’t screen with the film itself, Jonás expounds on how it thematically relates to Gravity:
‘Gravity is a movie about a character who is literally and metaphorically disconnected,’ he said. ‘She’s shut herself down as a person even before the action starts. We liked this idea that finally she gets in touch with someone on Earth and it’s this guy who not only does not speak a word of English but is drunk.’
It was important for Alfonso Cuarón to stay with Dr. Stone during that pivotal scene. The Mexican director could have easily cut back to Greenland and Aningaaq, but it was more important to get the audience emotionally attached to Stone as she was making a very critical decision about her life. Alfonso explains:
“We were adamant that we wanted to stay in the point of view of Ryan, never cut back to Earth or Houston, nothing,” said Alfonso. “We said, ‘We have to stick to the plan, but wouldn’t it be cool to do a short about Aningaaq?’”
Now that we’re in the middle of awards season, Gravity is an early frontrunner for Best Picture, along with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips. It’s also in heavy consideration for the Best Cinematography award for Emmanuel Lubezki, Best Actress for Sandra Bullock, and Best Original Screenplay for Alfonso and Jonás Cuarón. The space epic might also take home Best Live-Action Short Film thanks to Aningaaq.
Alfonso Cuarón first had the idea for Aningaaq during a trip to Greenland, and Jonás secured financing for the short film from Warner Home Video. Aningaaq was designed to enhance Gravity‘s story, but it was also designed to stand on its own as a short film.
At the moment, Warner Bros. has no plans to release the short film in theaters attached to Gravity, but the movie studio is planning to submit Aningaaq for consideration for the Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar category. If the film gets nominated then audiences could get a chance to watch the film on the big screen as many theater chains program all of the nominations for Best Live-Action and Best Animated Short Films in theaters across the country.
If it doesn’t get nominated for an Academy Award, then Warner Bros. will most likely release the Aningaaq short with the home video release of Gravity. While the space epic doesn’t have a street date for the Blu-ray/DVD, it will likely be released sometime in January 2014.