IDFA FORUM 2011. "A cosmic documentary comedy" is the tagline for Michael Madsen's next big film project "The Visit" which takes a close look at how we humans would react if – or when – we are approached by intelligent life from outer space. According to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs the very first step in an alien emergency plan would be, quite simply, a phone call: "They have arrived."
It's hard to fathom, but not entirely so for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs who are responsible for devising a plan in the event that the unfathomable should occur: that one day we would be called upon by intelligent life from outer space. This setup proved to be too intriguing to ignore for filmmaker Michael Madsen who thrives on philosophical brain-teasers that stretch our imagination and understanding to the limits.
With his next project, "The Visit", Michael Madsen once again attempts to make the essentially incomprehensible comprehensible. He and his crew will be working in collaboration with the UN Office in Vienna to bring us closer to a possible scenario which would unfold in case of an alien visit. In a sense, the film will serve as a kind of full-scale emergency plan putting the Office's knowledge and speculations into real-life perspective.
Madsen intends to look at such an encounter on a very practical level, starting from the very first phone call to the Office of Outer Space Affairs that 'something' has landed. What would be the next step in a drill for an unexpected visit from far away galaxies?
"The Visit" introduces experts and scientists such as astro-biologists, space-psychologists, military experts, semiologists, theologists, and even chefs with a scientific approach to cooking, to uncover the human interests at stake, such as: What kind of architecture would be suitable to house the aliens? Do aliens have human rights? What should we feed them, our main concern being to dissuade them from developing a taste for human flesh? How do we communicate with them? Can we crack a joke or two and build friendships? Arriving from far they must be able to teach us about spacecraft engineering? Last but not least, what about all the questions we possibly cannot imagine?
With more than a touch of humour, Madsens investigation into our possible reactions and precautions linked to an alien visit acts as a kind of x-ray on our society: What do these reactions say about us, our fears, our longings, our beliefs?
To fully transmit a sense of the strangeness in this encounter, Madsen is devising an imagery that reflects that we are being observed by something or somebody that is entirely other-worldly. For instance, Madsens wants to suggest that we are looked upon by intelligent creatures that see in multiple perspectives and perceive time in multiple dimensions. Visually speaking, The Visit acts as a mirror in which the audience sees itself through the eyes of an extra-terrestrial entity.
The film, which is in an early development stage, continues the collaboration between Madsen and his creative team from "Into Eternity" with Lise Lense-Møller as producer, Heikki Färm as cinematographer and Stefan Sundlöf on editing.