Visiting thirteen countries in an hour and a half? Technology has yet to make such instant travel feasible, but it has given birth to an ambitious project in the form of "The Owner," the first film from CollabFeature.
The film is the chronicle of an ostensibly ordinary backpack on an extraordinary journey. The bag is lost in the beginning of the film in a small village near Sao Paolo, then continues a long trek across the world that includes stops in New York, Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Delhi to find its way back to its owner.
The bag, though, is just the common thread that ties this film together. The real story is how "The Owner" was made -- with not so much as a Visa or Passport required. Twenty-five independent directors, spread across the world, each wrote and produced their own four-minute segment in their home country. To ensure cohesion in the film, they collaborated online, crossing language barriers and evaporating territorial ones. The final result is like a cinematic quilt, each piece sewn together by Detroit-based producers Marty Shea and Ian Bonner.
"You could say there are 25 different messages or ways of seeing the world, or perhaps the message is the collaboration itself," said Mr. Shea. "There are certainly some strong themes that emerged during the writing process, particularly that of disconnection -- all of the characters are trying, unsuccessfully to connect to each other."
But the film's message is overwhelming one of connection, bringing together a panoply of cultures, actors and directors in creative unity. Like most of the film's cast and crew, Ridhima Sud, who appeared in the Dubai segment of the film, was drawn to the project for its innovation. "The idea that it's a global collaboration is unique. It incorporates the vision and style of not only many directors but also different languages and cultures. I wanted to be a part of this visual experiment, which could potentially change how films are made."
Indeed, the number of directors has earned the film a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, surpassing Paris Je T'aime. As such, the film doesn't have a singular owner, but many. It belongs to each person who collaborated, a hallmark of transcendent multiculturalism.
The Owner will be released world-wide May 25, 2012.