Birthday Zoe 2004 (1996)

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Birthday Zoe 2004 is a science-fiction home movie depicting a twelve-year-old girl’s birthday party set eight years in the future. The film is a staged party inter-spliced with actual home movies. A sequence of shots of Zoe at various ages shows her at the same fireplace opening presents on Christmas mornings. The speed of the cuts intensifies, reaching a turbulent pitch before leaping into the future. Time has bifurcated. The twenty-year-old Zoe refuses to blow out her candles in spite of her mother’s warning that she will remain ‘trapped in this time frame here in Cincinnati’. Returning to the twelve-year-old protagonist, and the unstable periodicity of past birthdays, young Zoes at every age are unable to blow out their candles. In a sunlit yard, an uncut turquoise birthday cake sits on a table amidst the aftermath of a party. Zoe dissolves into an incandescent flash of light, which fades to a shot at dusk where the littered table is now lit by fireflies.