Body and Soul, by Hungarian director Ildikò Enyedi, has already won the Golden Bear at the last Berlin Festival. The plot is simple and almost trivial: Mária and Endre work in the same slaughterhouse. She is in charge of quality control, and he is the financial director. They are both lone and slightly sad characters, but at a certain point they discover they have a recurring dream: in their dream they are two deer, a male and a female, that meet in a snowy Northern forest. Mária and Endre have already met in the workplace canteen, and have tried to get to know each other, but only after they share their dream they realize that something important has already happened between them, and that there’s no way back. At this point their relationship with the deer is not so relevant any longer, because the animals themselves that have entered the icy ground of human beings, and they now speak a new language. An enchanting and unconventional love story, described through the psychic relationship between humans and animals. The director’s theory, expressed gracefully in a minimalist style, is that the animal “space,” which is wilderness unaltered by humans, is in itself the space of love, home to what’s more intimate and deep in human nature.

Annihilation, the last film by the American director Alex Garland, has a different slant. Garland is the author of Ex Machina, another successful film that deals with the major and complex issue of the relationship between humans and robots. Annihilation has an all-female cast, and is inspired by a successful book with the same title, written by Jeff VanderMeer. The plot is the following: a group of women scientists is sent on a mission to the so called “X Area.” This is a sinister and mysterious area of Florida that has been placed in quarantine after an alien spaceship has apparently crashed on it. Within this swampy, wooded area, very difficult to cross, an incredible process of fauna and flora biotransformation is taking place. From the outside this can be perceived as a sort of multicolour and fascinating “air sparkling.” What’s worst, the contaminated area is gradually but relentlessly expanding. The head of the mission, played by Natalie Portman (other leading actors are Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez) is a biologist and a former military officer who has decided to join this risky mission to find out what has happened to her husband, a member of the special forces who was badly wounded in one of the many, unsuccessful attempts to enter the X Area to uncover its secret. The women scientists will discover a beautiful, ethereal world full of deadly dangers, with changing landscapes inhabited by strange creatures that are both animals and plants. A place where men are turned into plants, and “something” is giving life to something new and incomprehensible, using human and alien genes. A place where it’s very easy to die, or loose your mind.

In Italy we could see this film only on Netflix, due to a conflict between producers and director. The first reviews have been enthusiastic: some critics think that the film is bound to become a science fiction “classic.”