Record/Play is a sci-fi love story described as “war, fate, and a broken Walkman transcend time and space.” It’s a short feature full of spaced out emotional beats and not much dialogue besides a woman’s voice from Bosnia 2-10-1993. The first frame tightly wraps around old cassette tapes with handwritten labels: Venezuela 4-14-86, Cameroon 1987, Portugal 8-14-87…cut to a small suite case full of cassette tapes on a dinner table. A man studies the Bosnia tape before putting it into his Walkman. Finally, a magical machine with visibly moving parts and big buttons that require more than a touch. It’s passcode free and lacks a screen, but it’s just a Walkman? This is sci-fi right? The man puts his headphones on and listens to a woman talking into a tape recorder. “I would bring you here if I could,” she says. A tear cuts light into the man’s face as it rolls down his cheek. He could be a teacher, a scientist…some sort of mechanic? “Oh my god,” she says, cut off by a sound similar to a quieted gunshot. The Walkman breaks, but when fixing it the man altars it to trace the origin sounds through time.
The film’s deceptively simple, yet high-concept story is an analogy for fate, circumstance and order out of chaos. It’s similar to Primer, but a lot easier to follow. The science is still right, but more attention is paid to the narrative. /Play works as just a love story or sci-fi. Written by Jesse Atlas and Aaron Wolf and directed by Atlas, /Play was the official selection for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Aside from winning mad awards around the way, Atlas and Wolf recently inked a deal to make /Play a full-length feature set to be released next year. Atlas talked about the film here. When asked how the full-length feature will differ he said, “What happens if the tape plays in a continuous loop? What if you edit the tape, or record new sounds over the old ones? What if the tape itself starts degrading and flaking away? It was great to pose these questions, and we discovered a much more intricate story in the process.” He recently put the full short online. Watch below.