Michole Briana White as Captain Lamb in “I Like Tomorrow.” Image courtesy of Nancy Andrews and Jennifer Reeder

In “I Like Tomorrow,” the new short film by Maine filmmaker and College of the Atlantic Performance Art and Video Production educator Nancy Andrews, you can spot a book by legendary science-fiction author Octavia Butler. It’s sitting on the console of the ramshackle space capsule of lonely astronaut Captain Regina Lamb (played by versatile Hollywood actress Michole Briana White), just one of the ways that the solitary space voyager no doubt passes the interminable hours.

But Butler’s literary cameo in the short (co-directed by Andrews and filmmaker Jennifer Reeder) also fits thematically in a way that Andrews couldn’t have imagined when production on her film began back in 2015. “Her stuff is phenomenally prescient in a weird sort of way,” Andrews said of the award-winning Butler. “I think of it as more ‘speculative fiction,’ in that it stays fairly close to reality.” So viewers of “I Like Tomorrow” might find a certain kinship with the film’s tale of a lone woman stuck in a sealed and enclosed space for a longer-than-expected period of time, and the way her idled mind sees her conjuring up old choices and future possibilities. 

When Andrews and Reeder (old friends who came up with their joint collaboration while working in residence at Ohio State’s prestigious Wexner Center for the Arts) first conceived of the tale of Captain Lamb trying desperately to reconcile her past and future versions of herself (both played by the truly impressive White), things were different, naturally. Could even Octavia Butler have known about our individual solitary year in quarantine lockdown, surrounded by books, wearing T-shirts with the days of the week on them (as Lamb does) to differentiate the stiflingly unchanging days, and facing up to our regrets and fears in the unending silence? 

“It’s so funny,” said Andrews, “It feels so salient right now. Just dumb luck, I suppose.” For Andrews, the reunion with White (lead of Andrews’ Gotham Award-winning film/web series “The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes”) was always in the stars. “I Like Tomorrow’s” six-year gestation, however, was not. Citing her and Reeder’s typically busy schedules (Reeder went on to direct the indie feature “Knives and Skin” in 2019), professor Andrews also throws some shade at the film’s initial editor who, as she puts it, laughing, “mañana-ed it” until the filmmakers had to step back in to make the film’s premiere at the Portland International Film Festival last week. (It’s the other Portland, but, like so many film festivals in this benighted year, it’s a virtual one, so too you can see “I Like Tomorrow” by way of the festival, through Sunday.)

Apart from the theme of going slightly batty in your tin can (the lyrics of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” figure into the 14-minute film), Andrews says that she’s often drawn to stories of women who are isolated for various reasons. “This one is a very physical isolation, but in a psychologically rife landscape,” said Andrews, currently at work on the College Of the Atlantic-shot feature “The Bloody Room,” starring her students. Andrews notes that Lamb’s confrontation with both her frazzled younger and infuriatingly knowing older selves plays out like a love triangle, each asserting that they alone know the real her. 

It’s a lovely, funny and sublime showcase for the multitalented White (most recently of TV’s “Goliath” and the more overtly pandemic-themed feature “Songbird”), Captain Lamb’s ultimate, uneasy detente with her fractured self culminating in a burst of song and animation (both by Andrews) where the ongoing internal debate that comes from living with our self (or ourselves) finds at least temporary peace. Said Andrews of this delightfully strange, thought-provoking short, “We purposely don’t have specific answers. It’s not about diagnosis, certainly. It’s something relatable, I hope, about the different aspects of the self.”

Nancy Andrews and Jennifer Reeder’s short film, starring Michole Briana White, “I Like Tomorrow,” is screening online at the Portland International Film Festival (the other Portland) through Sunday at cinemaunbound.org.  

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: