The Invention of Heaven
For two centuries, a hacker and a soldier have lived in a paradise of their own conjuring. But an army of ex-prisoners has risen to exact revenge on the company that made heaven-on-earth possible. Can they stop tides of war from rising and reclaim the life ripped away from them?
Number of Pages:94
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Jovi Juan is an artist, writer, and journalist living in London. He is currently the Graphics Director for Europe for The Wall Street Journal where his work has garnered many awards, including two Loeb awards and several medals and distinctions from the Society of News Design.
I chose journalism as a career because I wanted to document the truth, wherever it led. And, in my role as the Graphics Director of The Wall Street Journal, the past 15 years have given me more than my fair share of truth to grapple with— from the 5 U.S. elections I covered, to the 2008 economic downturn, to the Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan Paris terrorist attacks and the grim work of Brexit. But while all those stories were and are extremely important and exhilarating to work on, I’ve found myself more troubled by what wasn’t getting read. Our deep and extensive coverage on the rise of right-wing extremist parties in Europe, on the wave of migrants into the continent in the wake of the Arab Spring and war in Syria, on Boko Haram and their empire built on kidnapping: despite our commitment, these important stories languished near the bottom of our most trafficked stories. Penetrating the consciousness of readers often means concocting anew a familiar, hellish potion— part terror, part blood, part schadenfreude. And while the attention span of an American audience for any such topic is limited, the worse frustration is that it tends to turn off just as the story gets interesting.
These broad thematic stories have a moral, philosophical dimension that is hard to explore in a way that reaches a large audience with the kind of reckoning force they require. How, within the strict confines of reportage, can an audience really understand the stakes of a life-or-death path of an Eritrean migrant or, higher up the difficulty chain, the policy implications of a far-right government? Essays, long-form news stories, visually rich digital experiences never quite cut into the conscience the way a well-crafted, fictional film can.
In this context, I often think about that great work created by an ex-journalist, The Wire, and how it shone such an incisive light on a sub-culture of Baltimore. It was ground whose specifics David Simon knew well as a reporter, but probably struggled with its obscurity within the American consciousness. It must have been heartbreaking to feel deeply how the pervasive culture of drugs could carve up our most basic human bonds and have no one really care about it. But in six seasons, he conjured up an enduring revelation for so many viewers, helping them see the world from perspectives they could not have previously imagined.
What I would like to do in the films I make is explore this broadly societal dimension, not in pedagogical terms (as if I wanted to teach anyone anything) but in existential ones. As a species, we are facing issues that cut close to what makes us human, or at least what we thought made us human. What happens when long standing ethical and behavioural boundaries are crossed— not in the immediate aftermath, but years, generations, centuries after the fact?
The script I am submitting, The Invention of Heaven, deals with two nascent trends we are facing now: the increasing separation of classes and the rise of wholly immersive, personalized digital experiences. And the treatment, Khalid, deals with race, migration, hate, and the limits of heroism. Both are in the genre of science fiction, both are action films— star-making vehicles with strong three act structures.
I’ve always been struck by something that Rod Serling said, “I found that it was all right to have Martians saying things Democrats and Republicans could never say.”
I’m not saying that these kinds of films are not being made, but I am saying that this is a crucial moment to have more of these movies out there. As a screenwriter, I see it as my mission to address the big issues, to raise the general level of social conscience, and to express a faith that we can grapple with whatever we find once we can see it in the light.