Nils Keller and Max Richert’s sci-fi short film, Almost Home, asks an earnest and relevant question. Is life worth living…even at the high risk of death?

Jakob (Jeremias Meyer) has been living for years on a spaceship with his mother, Nico (Susanne Wolff). On Earth, Jakob was confined to a wheelchair, and through Nico’s research, she has found a way of allowing Jakob to walk and live a typical life. Finding normalcy again required the pair to live in the weightless isolation of space for many long years. The research proved to be successful, and Jakob is ready to return to Earth to be with his friends and particularly his father, Tom (Stephan Kampwirth).

Simple plots are never so simple in science fiction. Just as their ship prepares to dock, a severe flu outbreak is spreading, killing those with compromised immune systems. Jakob is one of those compromised, and just as he is able to taste freedom literally, his mother wants to return him to space.

Almost Home gives me exactly what I want in my science fiction. Its story takes us to the not-so-distant future where science has advanced to help humanity, but these remarkable advancements challenge what it means to be human.

“…just as he is able to literally taste freedom, his mother wants to return him to space.”

The question at hand is what is a life worth living. For mother Nico, her natural instinct is to protect her son…even if that means locking him away in a cage for his safety. Father Tom has not been with his family for years, and with them in space, he cannot be physically present. He feels helpless in protecting his wife and son. Jakob’s story is the most important. Is living a life worth living worth the risk of dying? Almost Home presents its thesis, asks hard questions, and lets us work it out, even if you disagree with the ultimate conclusion…in this case, the story’s ending.

Also impressive is the production values of Almost Home. Not only does the action take place on a believable spaceship, but the detail the filmmakers put into this environment is incredible. The story’s background includes that transition from the weightlessness of space to the hard-hitting gravity of Earth and the stress it places on Jakob. who has not walked in childhood. The animation in space is also equally impressive. It’s simply hard for me to believe that all this effort went into a short film.

Filmmakers take heed. With access to incredible movie magic in space, Almost Home tells a heartfelt and provocative story. In other words, the story came first, and the technology behind it only bolsters the impact of that story. Lastly, as a science fiction story, Almost Home has something to say about the human condition. Now, are we ready for another pandemic?

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