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There are certainly plenty of examples of great works of science fiction that use extraordinary circumstances as a means of exploring human drama. Mike Cahill's Another Earth did that in its own way, telling the story of two people who form an unlikely friendship in a reality where another earth is discovered and within traveling distance. By mainstream standards, Cahill's film is probably more of a drama than it was sci-fi, in spite of the mentioned "new" earth. The story's focus is less on the existence of this newly discovered planet and more on what the opportunity to visit it means to Brit Marling and William Mapother's characters.
Cahill's next project incorporates science and characters with intertwining stories. Hollywood.com posted casting call information from Calleri Casting, which tells us a little bit about Cahill's i Origins:
This film, a second feature from award-winning, breakout filmmaker Mike Cahill (Another Earth) connects the lives of the most unlikely people from around the globe. One doctor, on the brink of a scientific discovery which will have historical ramifications, travels to India to search for the one person, a young Indian girl, who can prove or disprove his theory. The story follows the incredible journeys that bring these strangers together, and proves there is no separating matters of science and matters of the heart.
Among the roles being cast is "Salomina," who is described as an "impoverished Indian girl living in Delhi." Her character description also says that she was a frequent visitor at the Save the Children community center and now works as a maid after her mother died and her father became an addict.
It's interesting to note that this character has become a maid, considering that's the occupation Brit Marling's character took in Another Earth after serving a prison sentence due to her involvement in a drunk driving accident.
I'll admit, I watched Another Earth expecting something a bit more sci-fi, based on the description, but instead found a drama that deals with remorse, redemption and grief in a very human way. The sci-fi element incorporated into the story does exactly what it's supposed to, in that it offers an opportunity for something extraordinary for two characters who need a change. From the description for Cahill's next endeavor, it sounds like i Origins will place a lot of emphasis on the characters, who are brought together in some way by science. There's plenty of potential for a great film there, especially if Cahill ties the stories together as eloquently as he did with his last film.
Hollywood.com says the film will shoot in New York City, but there's no word on when production will begin.