Short Film Profile
Copyright © 2009 Maboroshi Productions


The final days of a young man living in solitude arrive with a mysterious letter.

Film notes

Zeitnot is a chess term used when a player is running out of time for a move. The film was inspired by a dream while writer/director Stephen Riehl was going through Cancer treatment in which he was playing a multileveled game of chess against an invisible adversary with physical repercussions for making an inferior move and the ultimate consequence for a wrong move.

The first in a projected cycle of three films that will approach the concept of solitude, Zeitnot tells the story of a young man that receives a mysterious letter without a return address. All that is written on the letter is a chess notation. Unable to sleep, he decides to play along. Over the next two days he receives notations in the mail until on the final day, after work, he finds the move has already been made. Night falls and he begins a tense game against an invisible adversary.

We were interested in making a series of minimalist works in which we can experiment with sound design, composition, and storytelling. The idea of a cycle simply came about as all three films were conceived from one another. It was over a period of two weeks that the three films took shape. We wanted to shoot them all in black and white and with only one actor to maximize the reality of their idiosyncratic worlds. Zeitnot specifically shows both the dream and waking life of a character in order to bring power to the resolution.

The film was mostly shot over the course of one night, with the exception of a few pick up shots. Principal photography was finished after two days, and post production took about a month.


Writer (Original story)




Copyright © 2009 Maboroshi Productions

Previous screenings

Northwest Projections Film Festival | 2009
17 Apr – 20 Apr | Bellingham, WA, United States
1 Oct – 8 Oct | Tacoma, United States

Latest press reviews/articles

“... Zeitnot explores solitude, the first in a projected trilogy about the subject. ...”
1 Oct 2009 | Adam McKinney | The Weekly Volcano
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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 27 Dec 2016