Catherine Missal and Bodine Boling star in Movement and Location.
In new indie sci-fi film Movement and Location, Kim Getty (Bodine Boling) is an outsider trying to get by—and keep a low profile—in a strange and confusing society. But unlike many sci-fi films, Kim isn’t an alien. She’s a refugee from Earth: fleeing unspecified horrors, she paid a smuggler to help her time travel roughly 400 years into the past, landing in Brooklyn circa 2015.
Having escaped with little more than her life, Kim has some trouble grappling with the new world where she finds herself. At first, she’s homeless, but eventually finds a job, an apartment, and a love interest. She is clearly still adjusting though, and her social awkwardness triggers skepticism in those around her. Kim repeats slang phrases under her breath, committing them to memory after hearing them for the first time, a habit that comes off as strange and aloof to others. Then, Kim meets Rachel (Catherine Missal), a homeless teen living in a park and quickly learns that she, too, is from the future. Rachel is the first other time-traveling refugee that Kim has met since her journey back in time three years ago. From there, the story spirals into a compelling narrative about blending in with everyone else while feeling the need to warn the world about the future. The result is an eerie flick with feminist overtones: Should the two women make the dangerous decision to speak up? Or stay hidden? It also serves as a commentary on important contemporary issues around immigration and homelessness.
During the opening credits of Movement and Location, one name stands out over and over again: Bodine Boling not only stars in the film, but wrote, produced, and edited it, as well (her husband, Alexis Boling, is the director and cinematographer). Bodine Boling began writing the script for Movement and Location back in 2011—she wound up going through 17 drafts. I talked with Bodine on the phone about the project that has occupied the last four years of her life. She says:
“In the film, time travel is a one-way trip to have an easier life. [Kim] is coming from 400 years in the future, and I say very little about what the future is like. I didn’t have the budget for special effects and stuff, and I think when you can’t see the monster and you’re forced to imagine the monster, the monster is so much scarier. What could the future be like that coming back 400 years and being dropped there, no identity, having to completely fend for yourself—that’s the alternative that you not only wanted, but paid for?”
The commentary on migration is clear and poignant. Watching this film right now, it’s impossible not to think about the refugee crisis in Europe. Millions of Syrians, Iraqis, and other people are fleeing violence, trusting their lives and life savings to people they hope will help them get to a safer land. Even the luckiest refugees—the ones who actually arrive in Germany or another country that will let them legally make a new life—they leave everything they’ve known, travel great distances at great risk, and adapt to an entirely new life. The same is true for Kim, Rachel, and anyone else who has been forced to move to an entirely new world.
We learn that the future is most certainly grim, but it’s not like the present is all that great either. In her job as a city outreach worker, Kim walks around New York all day, handing out free meal cards to adults living on the street—a reality for a staggering amount of people. This detail comes from Boling’s real-life work with Urban Pathways, a New York City non-profit that works to get those experiencing homelessness into long-term affordable housing. Kim and Rachel struggle to understand the waste and isolation of their fellow New Yorkers: Kim explains to an incredulous Rachel that people leave lights on all day, and that a bunch of people sit at separate tables in a restaurant and eat at the same time, but don’t say a word to each other.
The film feels quick, clocking in at only 93 minutes, and ends with Kim’s future still uncertain. “I didn’t make a movie for everyone,” Boling says. “But what I’m finding is that smart, interesting women are drawn to this film. And if smart interesting women are falling in love with it, then I believe that’s something special.”