In the early days of quarantine, director Rodrigo Saavedra found he was reading more and more poetry, saying: “I guess in those early days of lockdown we were all trying to use the free time to educate ourselves, some were trying to cook, some were learning a new languages, I started following a bunch of classic and contemporary poetry twitter accounts and podcasts.”
Then one afternoon he came across a poem by Chinese Tang Dynasty era poet, Li Bai,entitled ‘Drinking Alone in the Moonlight’. That’s when it hit him - the 8th century poet had perfectly portrayed the feelings of people in lockdown in2020.
The poem is an ode to drinking and dancing with the moon and one’s own shadow. Saavedra who like many had also found a new appreciation for drinking, as well as poetry, decided to make a short film about it.
“I just felt the poem was so poignant for our times, but at the same time it’s simplicity allowed me to be playful. I didn’t want to make something preachy or teach a moral lesson at this moment in our history, I felt like there were already people doing that, so I wanted to show my perspective of lockdown being more light-hearted and less politically correct, an ode to the drunks!” said Saavedra.
He then started recruiting his friends - all on lockdown - and was pleased to find that they had reached peak quarantine boredom and all willing to participate. Cinematographers, stills photographers, illustrators and production designers all jumped in. They either filmed themselves or their partners at home.
The result is a beautiful portrayal of, well, drinking alone under the moonlight. Each character draws us into their world, into their intimacy, and if you’ve ever had that extra glass of wine at night, it’s impossible not to relate. Melancholy turns into euphoria, and moments of beauty are mixed with other more disarming humorous ones.
As the characters swirl and sway it’s amazing to find how this 8th century poem perfectly predicted the world's 2020 solitude, giving the film a certain tragicomic feel. All in all it’s a perfect account of what lockdown evenings represented around the world. Saavedra himself puts it this way: “In a few decades, when my grand kids ask me what I did whilst locked down for 100 days, I’ll be able to just press play on this film and tell them ‘I drank’.”