A profoundly moving and richly cinematic exploration into the condition known as XP (Xeroderma Pigmentosum), a genetic disorder that affects the body’s ability to process light from a variety of sources, making exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet rays a constant and present danger. In this enigmatic documentary by filmmaker/writer Carlo Shalom Hintermann (who served as second unit director on Tree of Life—we can thank him for those gorgeous shots of birds and other natural signs—and has penned definitive critical works on Takeshi Kitano and others), the lives of these creatures who live by night is both filmed and imagined as anime sequences voiced by the young people depicted.
The film focuses on Camp Sundown in the New York’s Catskill Mountains. At the camp, started as an outlet for their daughter, who is afflicted by the disease, Dan and Caren Maher provide young XP patients with a chance to participate in the summer camp experience. As the day for someone afflicted with XP begins at night, the filmmakers, working with a specially designed LED lighting system and light sources such as flying lanterns and floating water lilies, were able to capture on film the wonders and mysteries of nocturnal play. — Madeleine Molyneaux