XP

 
Credits
2002, 11 mins. (Columbia)
Director/Writer/Editor: David Barba
Producer: James Pellerito
Director of Photography: Rick Lopez
Production Designer: Joe Kucharski
Composer: Scott Starrett
Cast: Blake Coelho, Jennifer Elise Gould, Roberto Garcia
 
About
The subject of xeroderma pigmentosum, a disease that renders the bearer unable to venture into the sunlight or endure any sources of UV radiation in the home, seems particularly well suited to the movies - that is, to sitting in the dark.

In David Barba's XP, a young boy afflicted with the condition is torn between the admonitions of his mother and doctor, and his wish to live a normal boyhood. Barba first became aware of the disease after seeing a television segment on it.

Barba - who was born in Mexico and received an MFA in film from Columbia University in New York City, where he now lives - began researching the disease on the XP Society's website and with a woman whose daughter suffers from it. Then, in September 2001, children with XP were featured in an article in The New York Times Magazine. "The lives of children with the disease are very challenging," says Barba. "They develop skin cancers very easily and often have to have them removed. Life expectancy is generally into the teenage years only, although advances are being made in treatments for the disease. There is presently no known cure."

Life for Barba's young protagonist seems like a ghost image of childhood, with the boy playing ball and riding his bike at night, and without playmates. To emphasize the difficulties XP kids face, Barba chose to film in Arizona. "I wanted an environment with great landscapes where the sun was almost always around, a constant reminder for the main character of what he couldn't have."

Barba has recently completed post-production on his thesis short film, entitled Adi�s, para siempre, which he shot in Mexico City. The title translates as Goodbye, Forever, which might also describe the haunting sense of loss that pervades XP.
 
Online Resources
Information network, Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society
Principles of color and light, Arizona State University
Ultraviolet radiation and health, World Health Organization