The Somnium

A single mother struggling with the loss of her son finds hope in an experimental treatment placing her in an eternal dream state with him back in her life. Meanwhile the mother's mom moves in to aide with her daughter's grief and patch up a frayed relationship. The begrieved mother has to choose between escape and reality.

  • Jingyu Liu
  • Alexandra Hontalas-Adams
  • Mo Zhou
  • Mia Drake Inderbitzin
    Key Cast
    Slumdog Millionaire, How I Saved the World, Her Collection
  • Shaw Purnell
    Key Cast
    In the Privacy of Your Own Home, Sun Valley
  • Roxann Blackman
    Key Cast
    Somebody's Truth, Heaven, Secret Admirer
  • Holden Scott
    Key Cast
    Junk Drawer Magic, The Mentalist, Love Letters
  • Project Type:
    Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Drama, Sci-fi
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    August 15, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Jingyu Liu

Jingyu “Olivia” Liu is an MFA student at Chapman University in directing major. She has been passionate about filmmaking ever since she was a child, however, growing up in a small town in China, she never had the opportunity to pursue it as a career. Unfortunately, the only “right path” for a small-town girl like her is to have a safe and stable job. After graduating from one of the best Engineering school in China, Olivia earned her first Master’s degree in the US and then became an engineer.

However, 12 years of studying and working in engineering only proves it’s absolutely not the life she wants, everyday she felt a calling for her true passion: story telling. Olivia built up the courage to chase the dream that never faded throughout her life, despite little formal education in film, and started over at the age of 30 to pursue that passion. Fortunately for her, amongst the many applicants, Chapman University selected her for their prestigious program. Her first year short film, Shallow Grave, was selected at a number of film festivals, and screened at Golden Reel Award’s showcase for nominated student films. With a profound understanding of both eastern and western cultures, garnered from her years in both countries, she is open to film making in any genre and believes the best films are those that touch your heart in their portrayal of humanity.

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Director Statement

The dream world has always interested me as source material for stories as my dreams every night are so vivid and real. The inspiration of this film is from one of my own experience- I felt pain in a dream one night. What a horrible experience, it forced me to think about: If I have tactile sense in the dream, what's the difference between dream and reality? I don't need to have outside stimulation, my brain can produce the input, which means, I only need a brain to live! That’s how the dream world setting comes to my mind in the short film The Somnium. On the other hand I want to bring up a fact about human nature that people love their children more than they love their parents- It's sad but it's true. And the theme of the film is about dealing with grief. Apparently, denial is a false choice, something our protagonist finds out in her escape from reality landing her in hell. That’s the message I want to deliver as a director.