Serial stories

Leviathan Cycle (2017–) envisages a future eerily like our present, whose inhabitants are the survivors of a cataclysmic solar event. The episodes are developed by Dawood in dialogue with a wide range of marine biologists, oceanographers, political scientists, philosophers, neurologists and trauma specialists. Each film – of which five are now complete – is written from the point of view of an individual character, and their fictional narratives are carefully interwoven with archival footage, linking the looming spectre of climate breakdown to human-scale stories.

Leviathan Cycle, Episode 1: Ben (2017)

A solar cataclysm has wiped out a large part of the human population. Ben reminisces about his childhood spent roaming the back corridors of the Natural History Museum in London (that contain, amongst other marvels, Darwin’s original specimen jars from the Beagle expedition) and his fascination with the Giant Squid preserved in the Marine Research labs.

Leviathan Cycle, Episode 2: Yasmine (2017)

Yasmine, a woman of North African origin, ekes out an existence in the derelict, former Victorian Market Hall in Plymouth. Ben happens upon her hideout, and we follow Yasmine’s inner monologue and exterior journey, through musings on borders, migration, species and social niceties. Towards the end of the episode, the pair decide to part for warmer climes, and leave Plymouth by boat as the Mayflower did in 1620.

Leviathan Cycle, Episode 3: Arturo (2017)

Ben and Yasmine arrive at a strange and enigmatic community based on an island in the lagoon of Venice. They engage in scavenging raids to the mainland and partake in the group’s Bacchanalian orgies. Their gluttonous sexual vagrancy is paralleled with images of overfishing and unnecessary cruelty in the fishing industry of the Mediterranean.

Leviathan Cycle, Episode 4: Jamila (2018)

Ben and Yasmine continue further south to the Moroccan coast, where they are attacked by Jamila and her group of parasitic bandits. The ethics of survival and predator-prey relationships in both human and marine species are explored, as members of another group intervene. But is this out of the frying pan and into the fire for the protagonists?

Leviathan Cycle, Episode 5: Ismael (2018)

Our protagonists are taken captive aboard a gigantic cargo ship, whose megalomaniacal captain Ismael entertains biblical pretensions. Ben is made to ‘pay his passage’, while a ghostly Yasmine stalks the empty corridors of the ship. Whales and whaling become a key subject – interrogating colonial and indigenous politics in the process.