September 9, 2004
When Bill Platt pitched his action-oriented "Darklight" TV movie two years ago, he hoped to create a new genre: "Chai-Fi."
The 32-year-old filmmaker intended the project -- inspired by the Jewish "demoness" Lilith -- to merge his heritage with his sci-fi obsession.
"I wondered if I could make Jewish legend fun for audiences who liked 'The Matrix,' he said. "And I wanted to see if I could create my own Jewish superhero."
He wasn't imagining a comedic MOT superhero like Jonathan Kesselman's "The Hebrew Hammer" or Alan Oirich's Menorah Man. Platt rather set his sights on Lilith, the talmudic demon queen turned feminist icon. The film -- typical Sci-Fi Channel fare -- is more for "Battlestar Galactica" fans than Lilith aficionados. Yet Platt did meticulous homework at the University of Judaism's library.
Traditional sources describe Lilith as Adam's surly first wife who considered herself his equal; declining to be dominated, she ultimately fled the Garden of Eden and morphed into a murderous incubus.
"Darklight" reimagines Adam's ex as an immortal who suffers amnesia, who eventually uses her powers to thwart a plague. It's the kind of debut feature one might expect of the enthusiastic Platt, who's always been a bit chai-fi.
Growing up in Reston, Va., he immersed himself in his Conservative Hebrew school as well as comics and the "Star Wars" movies. At NYU's graduate film program, he honored his Jewish grandparents -- who had supported his superhero fixation -- with a short starring Yiddish theater star Mina Bern.
His futuristic police thriller, "Bleach," won the 1998 Student Academy Award and jump-started his career as a producer of the Sci-Fi Channel's "Exposure Studios"; when he suggested "Darklight" to that network in 2002, he brought genre elements to the Jewish-inspired character.
Like any self-respecting superhero, Lilith has an arch-nemesis, a mad scientist, and a superhuman task: saving mankind.
"It's amped-up tikkun olam," Platt said. "She's repairing the world, except she's doing it on a grand scale, one curse at a time."
"Darklight" airs Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.scifi.com/darklight .
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