This Short Film, Based On Real Events, Tells The Chilling Tale Of A Village Which Fell Asleep

Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction and that was certainly the case when the entire village of Kalachi in Kazakhstan fainted and fell asleep, suddenly and without any reason, for several days. Filmmaker, Pedro Martin-Calero and producer, Paul Weston, wanted to tell the world about this phenomenon.

The creepy horror short film, ‘You Are Awake’ is eerie and surreal and generates the same uncanny feeling that you get when you have woken, shaking, from a nightmare and have no quite adjusted to the real world yet. You are in a parallel, unsure if you are safe and still the feeling of impending doom causes your heart to beat fast though your head is safely on the pillow. You are breathless but you are awake.


We asked Pedro to explain the story to us: “[the villagers] woke up between two and six days later a bit slumberous but their health was not harmed, crazy. But the most awesome thing is that no one knows why this happened, there are a huge amount of theories but there is no yet an explanation”. Though the story may have been based in one small village, the film was shot in over 20 locations and has an urban, industrial feel to it that adds to the chill.

As if we are watching the world that has fallen into disarray and pestilence, Pedro’s film educates us, entertains us and alerts us to the fact that sometimes the line between fact and fiction isn’t as clear as we first thought.


We caught up with Pedro to discuss when, where and how the film came together.

The Plus: How did the collaborative team form?
Pedro Martin-Calero:
The commissioner from Channel 4 asked Paul Weston, the Executive Producer of Colonel Blimp, to make a short film for them.  When I had the story and the concept I wanted to talk about I started to write with another Spanish script writer called Daniel Remón. After a few drafts we felt we needed some help with the language and then Joe Rosen joined us, he made a really good job, not only with the language issue, he also improved the script. 

TP: What locations did you shoot in?
We shot on San Miguel island that belongs to Azores archipelago in Portugal. The film was shot in more than twenty different locations which is quite nuts for a film of about four minutes long. We shoot in houses, squares, museums, parks, natural pools, abandoned huge telecommunication radars, 17th century greenhouses…


TP: To what extent is the narrative intertwined with your own experience or perception of life?
I think the true story, and therefore the film himself, is a metaphor of fear. I’ve seen several times in my life how people and institutions use fear as to control other people and even populations and its something that really interests me.

TP: Sum up the film in three words.
Dreamlike, dark, poetic. 

TP: What was the most challenging aspect of filming?
The most difficult thing was to get the film cans to Ponta Delgada, we had a lot of problems in the airport because they wanted to scan the film with very old and obsolete scanners but finally we accomplished it and the film arrived just before the shooting. 

TP: How long did the film take to edit? What editing software did you use?
About six days, to find the structure of the film was quite easy and after that Sacha Swarz, the editor, and I polished and polished every cut. But I have to say that, in these six days, we spent almost more time with the sound design than with the edition.
We edited the film in Avid.

TP: What is your favourite line in the narrative, why?
“It will appear first in the tundra but it will spread soon to your town.”  Because the sound and musicality of the line, the feeling of threat due to the future tense and above all because the word tundra, I love that word.

TP: What’s next for you?
I’m now finishing a new music video that should be released soon. Also I’m working in the script of my first feature which is very exciting.