For Clearer Skies (2012) – By Philip Smolen

In a dark, dreary garage, a mechanic is overcome by nausea and vomits uncontrollably into a sink. After cleaning himself up, he returns to his job, picks out a tool, and tries to repair an automobile. Injuring himself on the car, he is overcome by feelings of anger and frustration. He flies into a rage and then starts to cut away parts of his hand. When his partner comes to see how he’s doing, he has moved beyond his hand and successfully peeled away half of his face revealing his true alien features. His partner speaks softly and comforting to him, reminding him of the great sacrifice they have been selected for. But the man/alien remains angry and is not sure that he can complete his mission.

“For Clearer Skies” is a marvelous 14 minute short film from Canadian writer/director Alfredo Salvatore Arcilesi. His film ventures into an area rarely explored in sci-fi movies; exactly how do aliens train to become human? Though the idea of aliens among us is not new, Arcilesi takes a fresh approach to the subject. Most movies treat aliens as an all powerful and arrogant life form, but Arcilesi’s film makes the argument that this is not always the case. His aliens are unsure and bubble over with feelings of doubt and fear. In short, they act very human-like. They have been selected by their superiors to come to Earth to save their dying race, and they react like many of their human counterparts would, wondering why they have to carry such an important and overwhelming burden.

Charles Lo Manto assumes his alien identity so completely that it’s almost scary. He is convincing to the point where he even looks uncomfortable in his human skin. He’s wonderful, and displays a depth and understanding that is almost uncanny. Kelly Marie Murtha is sweet and calming as Charles’ partner. She already has accepted her assignment and seeks to sooth Charles into accepting his. She’s supportive and warm and her performance offers small glimpses into the emotions and needs of this tragic race.

To tell more of the plot would spoil some of the fun (especially the kicker at the end), but this is an original and sparkling look at a cliched subject that just begs to be remade as a full length feature. Featuring stellar special effects, “For Clearer Skies” manages to say something important about the universality of life. It’s a remarkable sci-fi short.

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