Across the Universe: South Australian Film Viewed in Space

By / 22nd of May, 2015
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An animated short film that explores the link between the future of space travel and medicine has won NASA’s Humans In Space Art Video Challenge.

Ella was written, produced, and directed by University of South Australia graduate Jess Cahill, and has since taken a trip into orbit to be shown on the international space station (ISS) as part of the winning prize.

“I had high hopes, of maybe a mention, or placing in the animation category, but finding out that we won the overall prize was a great feeling after a few months of waiting in suspense,” says Cahill.

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Terry Virts watching Ella aboard the International Space Station.

“When the photos of astronaut Terry Virts watching Ella on the ISS came through on Twitter it was incredibly exciting to see and it finally hit us that we had created something special.”

Cahill discovered the competition just two months before the competition’s closing date and says that completing the project in a short space of time around work and study was a challenge.

The winning video beat 64 other entrants from 16 countries around the world to win the competition prize, which included $5000 awarded by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.

The short film considers how the future of space exploration will benefit humanity by following the story of Ella, a scientist who travels the universe to find a cure for her sister’s illness.

“When writing Ella I researched how the history of space exploration – which is still a young industry – has already benefited humanity in so many ways,” Cahill says.

“I hoped to address the health and travel industries. New resources and technologies will influence how we treat patients in the future. Also, space travel will become a normal life experience as it becomes cheaper for the everyday consumer.”

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Ella won first place overall and first place animation in the NASA competition and was nominated in six categories at the South Australian Screen Awards.

“Ella has been the first film that I’ve worked on as producer after university, so to see it become a success has been such a great reward.”

Jess has entered Ella to several film festivals around the world and hopes that the team will be able to build on the success of Ella.

The award will be presented on June 5th through an online link-up with NASA representatives.

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