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Anthology film made from the sounds of space now free to watch online

Alien may have told you “In space no one can hear you scream”, but it was wrong!

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SSFX Anthology
SSFX Anthology

Queen Mary University of London’s Space Sound Effects (SSFX) project challenged independent filmmakers from around the world to create short films incorporating a series of strange sounds from space recorded by satellites.

The resulting collection of films have been combined into an anthology which is now available to watch for free online.

The release of the anthology film also coincides with the 76th anniversary of the discovery of these space sounds by Swedish physicist Hannes Alfvén.

Dr Martin Archer, space physicist at Queen Mary’s School of Physics and Astronomy, and director of the project, said: “I was blown away by how the filmmaking community took to incorporating the sounds into their work.”

A framing film was produced to connect together all the films into one single feature. “We wanted the framing film to delve into the underlying science, but it was important that this was done narratively,” he added.

Range of genres

Seven shorts emerging from the project premiered at the SSFX Short Film Festival last year and have since found success at film festivals and events around the world.

The films’ creative use of the same sounds from space, as well as their genres and topics, range considerably.

Nidhi Gupta, writer and producer of ‘Astroturf’, said: “The SSFX project was incredibly rewarding and allowed us as a creative team to learn about an exciting area we had no knowledge of previously. We also met other interesting filmmakers and found the audiences incredibly engaged. We have had a lot of positive feedback and Martin has been incredibly supportive and a champion for these films.”

Scientists study these sounds from the space environment around Earth because of their potential effect on technology like power grids, GPS and even passenger airlines. The anthology depicts some of the consequences caused by this ‘space weather’.

The SSFX project utilises data from the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and has been supported by Queen Mary’s Centre for Public Engagement, the European Geosciences Union and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

More information:

About the films:

The short films which comprise the anthology are:

Astroturf - James Uren (Director), Nidhi Gupta (Producer, Writer) – 1min

A meticulous young man tends to his fake garden to the sounds of deep space.

Dark Matter(s) - Jesseca Ynez Simmons (Director) – USA – 5min

This experimental and meditative imagining captures the activities of a fish tank in a way that takes the inhabitants out of their enclosed world, to a place unknown, to feel both their death and their life.

Murmurs of a Macrocosm - Adam Azmy (Director) – 5min

A journey through a microscopic world. We are led via the descriptive recordings of those who travelled it.

Names and Numbers - Simon Rattigan (Director) – 14min

A sound and voice collage shaped by the sounds of space and Morse code, addressing the external, physical and material experiences of sound and movement contrasted with interior reflections, explored through language, inner voices and symbols.

Noise - Ali Jennings (Producer, Director, Writer) – 13min

A secretive woman opens herself up to her unruly housemate, after they are stuck together in her room. 

Saturation - Victor Galvão (Producer, Director, Writer) – Brazil – 7min

There's no answer when time is the question. Featuring 35mm slides found in a medical archive, this sci-fi story concerns unknown phenomena that made all organic processes so fast as to make life impossible.

The Rebound Effect - Aaron Howell (Producer, Director) – 2min

Bringing together contemporary movement and digital media to capture dance in a way which pushes beyond the tangible dimensions of live performance.

SSFX world tour:

Shorts from the SSFX project were selected for screening at the following film festivals:

IN|DUST|REAL, Oradea, Romania

Grand Concourse Film Screening Series, New York, USA

AM Egypt Film Festival, Cairo, Egypt

Les Films de la Toile, Paris, France

Viten Film Festival, Bergen, Norway

Shorts on Tap, London, UK

East End Film Festival, London, UK

Academia Film Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Escape Velocity 2018, Maryland, USA (Maria Award for Best Short – Murmurs of a Macrocosm)

SCInema International Film Festival, Australia (Best Experimental Film - Astroturf)

South London Shorts, London, UK

Imagine Science Film Festival, New York, USA

Southampton International Film Festival, Southampton, UK

Cambridge Film Festival, Cambridge, UK

Aesthetica Short Film Festival, York, UK

London short Film Festival, London, UK


They have also been screened as part of special events across the UK at the following venues:

National Space Centre, Leicester

SMASHfest UK, London,

Genesis Cinema, London

Central Film School, London

Storyhouse, Chester

Royal Society, London

Nightstar Cinema, London & Dorset

Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Festival, Hereford

Rooftop Film Club, London

Hull Truck Theatre, Hull