The late 1960s, heyday of the Soviet space program. A Soyuz capsule carrying two cosmonauts violently reenters the atmosphere, burning up. Miraculously, both men survive, landing far off-course in the remote frozen steppes of Mongolia.
One of the men sets off, in the midst of a violent snowstorm, to search for rescue. On the verge of freezing to death, he finds a yurt in the wilderness, and seeks shelter inside. But this is no ordinary place, and no ordinary night, and the dawn is still very far away…
Against Night is not a film about a cosmonaut. It’s a film about a father. In my mind, though, the ideas of father and cosmonaut overlap a little. The distance, the suit. A father inherently starts from outside the family and has to work his way in.
Fundamentally, we’re made up of time and memory. The older we get, the more we become accumulations of memory, and the more we’re defined by the past. A child, or an animal, is free of this predicament. Time is the chain and memory the ball, growing heavier each day.
We have the choice of defining ourselves through our memory, our past, or against it. But whichever is the case, we’re still defined by it. And as we age, we take damage. Our bodies, cells, DNA all take damage, and our psyche too. It’s memory that does the damage.
We do funny things to memory: repress it, wallow in it, blow it up to great proportions until it crowds out all sense and reason. I believe this is a defining characteristic of being human, and it’s the reason I made this film.
Stefan was born in New York State and raised on both sides of the Atlantic, eventually graduating from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in sociology. After a brief stint at a UN-based NGO in New York, he moved back to Poland to study cinematography at the storied Polish National Film School in Łódź. While in Poland he wrote and directed WSCHÓD (EAST, 2008), a short film shot partly in the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, which premiered in competition at the Gdynia Film Festival. He spent the next few years working in London and Berlin, completing several screenplays, including the Polish Film Institute-awarded SZEREGOWY WOJTEK (PRIVATE WOJTEK). He is currently a Directing Fellow at the American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles, where he is a recipient of a Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship. Website
Saba graduated from UCLA with a BA in Psychology and a minor in cognitive science. After finishing school, she worked on her first short film as a PA, where she realized that she wanted to be a producer. Over the last two years, she has been gaining more and more experience in the film industry. For the last year, she has been working at Funny or Die, starting as an intern and slowly moving her way up to becoming an accountant and a producer. The bulk of her experience there is on Web content; however, she has occasionally worked on television shows and commercials.
Nico was born in Bogota, Colombia, where he spent the first 10 years of his life before moving to Miami and making that his permanent home. He graduated in 2011 from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film and Television Production. During his time in New York he discovered his sensibilities and passion for composition, movement, and light among other photographic elements and quickly shifted his aspirations of becoming a director into dedicating his life’s work to the art and craft of cinematography. Since then he has had the privilege of working on countless projects ranging from narrative to documentary and commercial work. In 2010, he was chosen to study for a semester at one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious film schools, FAMU in Prague, Czech Republic, where he was exposed to experiences that have deeply impacted his work as an artist and storyteller. He was recently awarded the Bronze Award in the Kodak Student Scholarship Program for his work on THE SUPERMAN, a production exercise at the AFI Conservatory. Website
Aleksandra, originally from London, grew up with a strong love of the arts. She got her BA in Classical Studies from Royal Holloway University of London, after which she moved out to Los Angeles to study film. Since then she has interned at a production company, worked as a casting assistant for an award-winning independent feature, studied acting, and crewed on a number of short productions as script supervisor, grip, art department and production designer. After graduating from the Los Angeles Film School with a scholarship and a passion for design, Aleksandra came to AFI to enhance and focus her skills as a production designer, further nourishing her love of creating a beautiful frame.
After graduating with a degree in Psychology, Shayar spent a few years navigating the indie circuit in India. He worked primarily with production company Oijo! to produce content for The Big Indian Picture and Balcony TV Delhi before working as an assistant editor on a feature and TV series for Yash Raj Films, Mumbai. He is currently a second year fellow at AFI, where he is the recipient of a Tom Yoda and Auerbach-Stuart Scholarship for 2013-14. A dreamer and foodie, he is serious about powerful story telling but really spends most of his time looking for perfectly baked butter croissants. Website
Some of our visual references for the film.
The AFI Conservatory
At the world-renowned AFI Conservatory, a dedicated group of working professionals from the film and television communities serve as mentors in a hands-on, production-based environment nurturing the talents of tomorrow’s storytellers. The Conservatory is consistently recognized as one of the world’s top film schools.
More information is available at the AFI Conservatory website.
David Lynch (Director, Class of 1970)
Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive
Terrence Malick (Director, Class of 1969)
The Tree Of Life, Days Of Heaven, Badlands
Darren Aronofsky (Director, Class of 1992)
Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream
Ed Zwick (Director, Class of 1975)
Blood Diamond, Glory
Patty Jenkins (Director, Class of 2000)
Monster, The Killing
Janusz Kamiński (Cinematographer, Class of 1987)
Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List
Wally Pfister (Cinematographer, Class of 1988)
Inception, The Dark Knight
Robert Richardson (Cinematographer, Class of 1979)
Inglorious Basterds, The Aviator
Matthew Libatique (Cinematographer, Class of 1992)
Cowboys & Aliens, Black Swan
Victor DuBois (Editor, Class of 1976)
The Last Samurai, Grey’s Anatomy
Pieter Jan Brugge (Producer, Class of 1979)
The Insider, Heat
Steve Golin (Producer, Class of 1981)
Babel, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
Eric Watson (Producer, Class of 1992)
Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain
Tom Rickman (Screenwriter, Class of 1969)
Coal Miner’s Daughter, Tuesdays With Morrie
Scott Frank (Screenwriter, Class of 1984)
Minority Report, Out Of Sight
Jeff Nathanson (Screenwriter, Class of 1987)
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Catch Me If You Can