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94 elements to be explored in new film project

10 May 2012

A new web-based filmmaking project launched last week, bringing together award-winning filmmakers and the best in emerging talent to create original films about the endless ways in which the 94 naturally occurring elements affect our daily lives.

The project is being led by documentary producer and director Mike Paterson, who was motivated by the speed at which we're using up our mineral resources. The first four films have a biomedical focus and were supported by a Wellcome Trust People Award.

Sundance winner Nino Kirtadze made one of the first films about gadolinium, a chemical often given to patients undergoing MRI scans to help create a greater visual contrast between normal and abnormal tissues in the images being produced. The film follows the story of Levan in Tbilisi, Georgia, as he undergoes an MRI scan for a shoulder injury, relating the family's anxiety as they battle through the medical jargon to comprehend what the images mean for Levan.

Nino explains: "Many people have probably lived this kind of disturbing moment where we're confronted with an invisible enemy inside our bodies. Suddenly, our future seems to depend on a cloudy little white splotch in the middle of a gray zone of an MRI scan. When the time comes to try and decipher the mysterious images, an age-old fear wakes up, and its exuberance and predictability make the situation almost comical."

In 'Oxygen', BAFTA winner Marc Isaacs chronicles one long night in the life of a patient with severe respiratory problems who is reliant on oxygen supplementation to survive.

Marc said: "I chose oxygen as it seemed to offer the best opportunity to make a film with a simple human story. Myself and Guy King, the researcher, were invited into a ward dealing with severe respiratory conditions in a London hospital and the first person we were introduced to was Bob. The hospital staff clearly liked him, and I immediately understood why. Despite his desperate medical condition, he was extremely optimistic, remarkably kind and not without a sense of humour."

The first four films are freely available online. It is intended that the project will release two films per month for the next few years, eventually reaching the total of 94 films telling their own story.

The team behind the project are offering filmmakers two pitching opportunities to make the next two films, with up to £4900 available for each five- to seven-minute film. One of the pitching sessions will take place live at Sheffield DocFest in June, and the winner will be voted for by a live festival audience. The other will be funded by and voted for by users of the Indiegogo website.

Mike Paterson explains: "We're looking for surprising, moving, funny and unique human stories involving the elements - this is not about science, but our human relationships with our natural resources. And we're keen to see all documentary styles - from animated to artist's film, from the personal to the political, from experimental to observational."

To accompany the films, 94 Elements is also launching a dynamic digital platform for the project to explore our complex relationships with our resources. The platform will combine Twitter streams and live commodity prices for each element with resource mapping features using geological and commodity data from the UN and US Geological Survey.

For more information about the project, please visit 94 Elements or watch the trailer below.

Image credit: 94 Elements.

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