In 2008, as we were all salivating over our first iPhone, an eccentric former biologist, Dr. Florian Kaps – better known as ‘Doc’ – had a strange calling. He decided to save the last Polaroid factory in the world, in Enschede in the Netherlands. At first the venture failed miserably. But the Doc never gives up and what follows is a heart-warming and inspiring trip into the new power of analogue – taking him to maybe one of the unlikeliest places of all: Silicon Valley.
Doc might have saved the factory, retrieved the machines from the scrap yard and persuaded the workers to return, but he had overlooked that the chemicals and formula to make Polaroid’s vintage instant film had been lost. Unwilling to let this minor technical hiccup hold him back, Doc finds inspiration in a worldwide community of believers devoted to the analogue dream, including calligraphers, vinyl aficionados and Moleskine book binders. But even though Doc dares to dream bigger than most, charisma and persuasion can only get you so far in a tech-driven world that’s addicted to moving faster and faster.
Still, something is changing. A generation of young people seek to reconnect with authenticity, ready to swim against the digital tide. It‘s a big conversation, world-wide: ‘Digital’ only ever addresses two senses, sight and sound. But humans have five, and we are learning that to negelect three of these comes with a price: what the New York Times called The Tyranny of Convenvience. A̒nalog’ – things you can touch, tech that makes you think and slow down – offers liberation. The raw appeal of analogue gear, from vintage cameras to televisions, books, vinyl and radio: What was suddenly unfashionable once again is vital. As Doc puts it, “Analogue isn’t retro… It’s a decision, a choice.”
Can the good doctor offer an alternative path through trolling, fake news and information overload?
A colourful, stylish study of a unique and inspiring individual, as well as a thought-provoking exploration of the priorities of a society evolving faster than it can even comprehend, ‘An Impossible Project’ continues filmmaker Jens Meurer’s illuminating back catalogue of documentary features. A previousrecipient of the European Academy Award as ‘Documentary Filmmaker Of The Year’, his work includes Public Enemy, Jeckes and Egoli: My South African Home Movie. He is also the producer of films such as Russian Ark, Olivier Assayas‘ Carlos and Paul Verhoeven‘s Black Book.
Shot on analogue 35mm film (of course), the original soundtrack was recorded direct-to-disc by a 40-piece jazz orchestra with the sensational Haley Reinhart on vocals and the titles hand-printed by Erik Spiekermann. ‘An Impossible Project’ is rich in curiosity and good humour, celebrating the potent and lasting connections between humans and technology, and serving as a timely reminder that not only are we all unique, but humans are the most analogue project of all.