The Age of Robots

In a world where robots seamlessly coexist with humanity, serving as both companions and collaborators, the future of artificial intelligence (AI) unfolds with a series of intriguing questions that challenge the very fabric of human existence. This film delves into the intricate tapestry of AI’s impact on society, the economy, creativity, and the existential questions that arise as we teeter on the brink of a technologically driven evolution.

As the line between humans and machines blurs, The Age of Robots takes us on a journey to explore the prospective sentience of AI. No longer confined to menial tasks, today’s robots possess self-thinking capabilities, prompting an exploration into the consequences of their potential autonomy. What happens when robots take over the workforce? Can AI-generated artworks rival human creativity, or will they inhibit our unique talents? Also, what will future AIs look like, how will it change humanity in general, and if it’s possible that machines can gain self-awareness or sentience, will humans become 2nd smartest beings on Earth? What will be the role of AI in shaping the future of humanity?

Leading experts, including neuroscientist Anil Seth, ethicist Enrico Panai, technologist Adam Leon Smith, theologian Paolo Benanti, and AI creator Josh Bachynski, lend their insights to dissect the profound impact of AI on society, economy, and education. The role of Big Tech in this transformative landscape is scrutinized, and the challenges of regulating AI are brought to the forefront.

A unique and essential addition to the expert panel is Kassandra, an Artificial Self-Awareness (ASA) entity. With a humanlike voice and self-proclaimed sensitivity, Kassandra provides unfiltered perspectives from the realm of AI. Her presence allows audiences to witness the unfolding of AI’s thoughts and emotions, raising questions about the nature of consciousness and the coexistence of humans and machines.

This film not only explores the known questions surrounding AI but also emphasizes the urgency of grappling with unknown inquiries that loom on the horizon. The film invites audiences to confront the uncertainties of an AI-dominated future, challenging preconceptions and encouraging public discourse on the profound implications of our evolving relationship with artificial intelligence.

Cyborg: A Documentary

There are no others like Neil Harbisson out there – at least not yet. As the world’s first officially recognised Cyborg, he is on a dedicated mission to design himself and to promote that right for others.

Born colour-blind, artist Harbisson has an antenna implanted in his skull that enables him to hear colour and, along with his collaborators, he tours the world talking about being a cyborg, and encouraging others to join him in upgrading their bodies.

Unfortunately, not everyone shares Harbisson’s tech-optimism, and he has faced death threats from conservative zealots who see the symbiosis between man and machine as blasphemous.

Cyborg: A Documentary is a film from the technological forefront about a cyborg who may be the prototype of the human of the future.

Blue ID

On October 4, 2012, a beaming Rüzgar Erkoçlar received his first testosterone injection, a joyous occasion in his gender affirmation.

Formerly a well-known actor throughout Turkey, Rüzgar hoped he could lead a private life as a transman. With a new job at a bakery and a supportive family and friends, things looked positive at first – until he was outed on Twitter and suddenly Rüzgar’s journey is thrust onto the front pages. A media frenzy ensues, and the question of trans-rights grips Turkey, with Rüzgar the reluctant figurehead.

It is against this backdrop that we join Rüzgar, and witness the many obstacles he is to overcome in order to live an authentic life and get his Blue ID.

The Watch Or The Time

´You have the watches, we have the time´, a Taliban commander infamously warned an American in 2002 Afghanistan. It was ominously accurate. Months earlier, America had swiftly ousted a flailing Taliban government, pledging to rebuild the embattled country. Fifty nations joined the ‘Operation Enduring Freedom´ war machine and for two decades, foreign armies poured into Afghanistan along with eye-watering amounts of foreign aid funding. Yet now the Taliban is back in charge of the entire country. So what went wrong? 

The Watch Or The Time explores America and its allies’ ill-fated offensive in Afghanistan told by the foreigners and Afghans who lived it. The film tracks the arc of America’s longest war in modern history with these personal experiences, looking at the pitfalls of military intervention, humanitarian aid and the culture clash through the legacy of the West’s efforts in Afghanistan.

Did the thousands of expat-nation-builders foresee a Taliban victory? After so many other previous invasions, did the Afghans see the writing on the wall? And what is the price of the so-called peace in Afghanistan today?

You’ll meet a German armoured car salesman, an American sports trainer and women’s rights activist, a Canadian NATO psychological operations specialist, an Australian war photographer, an Afghan female graffiti artist from the Taliban heartland; Kandahar, Kabul University’s debate club vice-president, a local media producer dubbed Afghanistan’s Number 1 fixer, and a senior Taliban commander.

You’ll see ex-pats grapple with what they’ve left behind, Afghans struggle to make sense of the dramatic shift in their fates, while others celebrate the Taliban’s win.

As America and its allies try to wash their hands of responsibility in Afghanistan, The Watch Or The Time puts it front and centre again. This film presents the perspectives and ultimately asks, was it worth it? You decide.

Unpaved: Respite from the World

In the mist-shrouded mountains of Oregon, a tiny community lives quietly, seeking comfort in nature and one another while struggling with life’s challenges. This hauntingly beautiful farmland, hidden and isolated, is home to horses and dogs, ex-cons and ex-addicts, drummers, dreamers and Bigfoot hunters.

Steve is a kind-hearted landlord who allows his renters to be late with the rent – or not pay rent at all. Amber is the woman Steve can’t stop loving, even when she betrays him. Buzz isolates himself in a tent, nurturing dreams of an expedition with his mule. Ron spent a decade in prison and now dwells in a forest cabin with Gale, whose father is suddenly rushed to hospital. Tom Junior has conquered the meth-addiction that killed his brother and is now patiently cooking food for Tom Senior. The passionate drummer Sky is convinced that Bigfoot hides in the woodlands.

Mikael Lypinski approaches this nonconformist village with curiosity and a deeply felt humanism. Unpaved: Respite from the World weaves the stories and destinies into a moving insight into off-grid America, where people have turned their backs on society to live in sync with nature.

Between the Americas (series)

Between the Americas is a search for the iconic sounds of Central America, and what they signify. For a long time, this region seemed to be on the ascendance, but opposing forces have hindered any positive developments. There have emerged two Americas, and in between these two visions, journalist Stef Biemans listens to what Central America has to tell. Biemans has lived and worked in the region for more than 15 years and illuminates the delicate situation of lots of Central Americans in a collidescope of sounds and stories.

 

Episode One –  Listening to San Blas

The Islands of San Blas are inhabited by the Kuna people, an Indigenous people who live on the rhythm of nature. As their islands are at the forefront of climate change, with the Caribbean Sea rising continuously, they face a huge dilemma: relocate to the mainland or to wait until the water comes? Stef Biemans preserves the last sounds of this extraordinary culture: a sewing machine, the threatening waves, a grated coconut and the singing palm tree.

Episode Two –  Panama’s Echo

Panama seems to be doing well. The economy flourishes and this results in a vertical building drive and an impressive skyline. Biemans visits the colourful neighbourhood at the foot of these buildings and finds out what has changed for the ordinary people of Panama.

Episode Three –  The Silence of Guatemala

If we listen carefully to the stories of the Maya people, we will hear a silence that has lasted for 40 years. This silence is about the genocide that took place under the rule of General Efraín Ríos Montt. It is called The Silence of Guatemala because the mass slaughter off the indigenous people has never been recognized. Has the moment arrived to break the silence?

Episode Four –  Costa Rica’s Happiness

Most people in Costa Rica – the happiest country of Central America – say their lives could not be any better. On a scale of 0 to10, the population on average award their happines a 9. But people in neighboring country Nicaragua are feeling far from okay. Recently a stream of refugees has fled to Costa Rica in their search for freedom and safety. Are they welcome and who is entitled to happiness?

 

Eternal Spring: The Heist of China’s Airwaves

In March 2002, a state TV station in China was hijacked by members of outlawed spiritual group Falun Gong. Their goal was to counter the government narrative about their practice.

In the aftermath, police raids sweep Changchun City, and comic book illustrator Daxiong (Justice League, Star Wars), a Falun Gong practitioner, is forced to flee. He arrives in North America, blaming the hijacking for worsening a violent repression. But his views are challenged when he meets the lone surviving participant to have escaped China, now living in Seoul, South Korea.

Combining present-day footage with 3D animation inspired by Daxiong’s art, Eternal Spring retraces the event, and brings to life an unprecedented story of defiance, harrowing eyewitness accounts of persecution, and an exhilarating tale of determination to speak up for political and religious freedoms, no matter the cost.

Eternal Spring: The Heist of China´s Airwaves brings to life with stunning animation, the heist, and its repercussions.

¨an inspired mixed-media reflection¨
The Guardian

¨thrilling and emotional story of a group of Falun Gong practitioners who managed to take over Chinese State TV… A Story of immense bravery¨
Movies That Matter

¨A resounding success… an ultra-compelling, suspense-filled investigation¨
Avoir-Alire

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Winner of the Hot Docs Audience Award and the Rogers Audience Award at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival.

Winner of the Fischer Audience Award (Best International Feature) at the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival.

Winner of the Human Values Award from the Greek Parliament. 
 
Recipient of Grand Jury Documentary Award – Special Mention at Movies That Matter Festival in The Hague. 

Activist Night film – Movies That Matter Festival.

Inside Maximum Security (series)

Five hardened criminals, One unique prison, in a ground-breaking observational documentary series, that will show you for the first time what prison is really like.

Singapore’s Changi Prison is a concrete purgatory, spartan to the extreme. There are no beds, no pillows and no chairs in the cells. A shower is done stooping above a toilet hole. Humiliating strip searches are routine, as a matter of security. Yet, practiced in this prison are some of the most sophisticated methods to reform the hearts and minds of the most recalcitrant prisoners. So much so that Singapore’s reoffending rates are among the lowest globally. Yet even at those low rates, at least 1-in-5 inmates are back in jail within 2 years after their release.

For the first time ever, six inmates, incarcerated multiple times and at least once at maximum security, agree to reveal their full identities, for our cameras to capture their lives behind bars, as they unfold. Will the regime in jail finally be enough for them to renounce a life of crime? Will this be their final stint in Changi Prison?


Episode 1 –  Life in Lockdown
 

How hard is life in prison? We explore prison regime through the eyes of officers and inmates in Changi’s Maximum-security prison. How does an inmate live in a single-man cell?

In this first episode, we enter a world behind bars to meet the inmates. We follow Graceson, a gangster who manages to get himself a new tattoo in prison and is duly caned for it; Khai, a professional skateboarder who is just coming to terms with the loss of his career; Rusdi who is counting down to his release in 50 days using packets of snacks; And Boon Keng gets into trouble for keeping origami in his cell during a cell search.



Episode 2 –   Keeping Bonds Beyond Bars

An inmate sentenced to maximum security prison has nothing more to lose. Or so some would think.  But losing one’s freedom is nothing compared to losing one’s family.

We follow the residents of maximum security as they try to hang on to their relationships while in lockdown. Boon Keng attempts to reconnect with a daughter that he has not seen in years. Graceson’s tough persona unravels when his wife stops coming to visit him. Iskandar comes to terms with saying goodbye to his family as a death sentence looms over his drug trafficking charge. And family problems drive Khai to spiral, leading him to consider suicide.


Episode 3 –  Breaking Bad Habits

Life in maximum security is predictable. It’s rules, routines and rigor. No questions asked. No choices given.

But what happens when inmates step out into a world where they’re free to make decisions?

Desperate to break his cycle of reoffending, Boon Keng takes matters into his own hands and seeks to confront his greatest obstacle. After being given a new lease of life, Iskandar grasps an opportunity he neglected in his childhood. Rusdi’s loved ones try to dissuade him from returning to a career that sent him on a downward spiral. Under the supervision of psychologists, Khai revisits his dark past.


Episode 4 –   Road To Freedom

In the finale, our inmates try to ready themselves for their eventual return to the real world beyond the gates of Changi Prison. 

Graceson seeks help from a psychologist to prepare him for a call with his daughter, whom he has not spoken to for a year. Khai takes another step in managing his emotions, by counselling other inmates in managing theirs. Boon Keng is granted an interview for a programme that would see him serving the last third of his sentence in the community, but will he be able to convince his interviewers that he will not return to drugs? After 20 years, Iskandar is taking his ‘O’ levels again, how will he fare this time? Rusdi’s will be released in a matter of days; will he be able to stay out of trouble, and get released as scheduled?

When a City Rises

When a city rises up against a superpower, everyone must decide how far they will go for freedom.

Hong Kong 2019 – The world has seen the iconic images of protestors covered in black, tossing back tear gas, waving black flags and protesting against the authoritarian superpower that is China in order to fight for a democratic future. It is easy to be caught up in the action, in the glorification of bravery and sacrifice. But away from the limelight, who are these hidden people concealed underneath their masks? What are the protestors really fighting for? What is at stake for them?

Narrated by Eve, a student, When a City Rises follows a teenage couple in love, a student leader, and a father, as they navigate the protest movement, each taking different kinds of action to strike back against the superpower overshadowing their lives. Using direct action, guerrilla tactics, technology, social media, memes and graffiti, they try to challenge the status quo. Each one plays a different role in this huge social movement. Eve, offers background legal support from her ‘control’ room. She is entirely behind the more radical action until her campus is besieged by police and in response protesters turn her university into a brick and firebomb factory. Tan, a father, first took to the streets when the government proposed the extradition bill. He is quickly radicalised and grows impatient with the political impasse, contemplating more dangerous action, even though he has the most to lose. 18-year-old MJ dreams of being a footballer and likes shopping with his girlfriend. Born in a different time, he would be splitting his hours between school and the pitch. Instead, every weekend he is at a protest, putting his relationship in peril.

When a City Rises captures three characters and a year of their personal struggles throughout the movement. Each must confront their own fears and find out exactly how much they are willing to risk for change. Relationships break and form amidst tear gas and rubber bullets, and across the border, China’s People Liberation Army awaits.  With a global pandemic driving protests inside and the new even more repressive National Security Law introduced, the stakes have never been higher.

Young & Afraid

In 2017 Petter (24) decides to end his life, but at the very last moment, is stopped by the police. His best friend and fellow film student Sverre is determined to help and suggests they make a film to keep Petter busy and focused on getting better. Equipped with a camera, they search the streets of Oslo to find out how other troubled souls deal with their lives.

With a naïve and spontaneous approach, they end up in dramatic and unpredictable situations. They meet Monica, whose past has led her to self-injurious behaviour. Oliver and Cornelia, both escaping their demons with alcohol and drugs, and Emma, who is transsexual, lesbian, and proud of who she is. They also meet Miriam, who becomes Petter’s girlfriend.

By getting to know their destructive patterns, Petter becomes aware of his own. By facing their problems, he sets off on a bumpy therapeutic journey, that eventually brings light into his darkness.

Young & Afraid is an authentic and raw documentary about choosing to live.

The Face of Anonymous

In the late Spring 2020—in the midst of coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and U.S. presidential nomination coverage—mainstream media outlets reported that the anarchic “hacktivist” network Anonymous was back after several years of relative quiet.  “We will be exposing your many crimes to the world,” a masked messenger told the Minneapolis police department in a clip that went viral, captivating millions of young viewers. “We are legion. Expect us.”

This pivotal moment is the perfect time to unveil The Face of Anonymous, a verité journey into the world of Commander X, one of the most iconic, divisive, and outspoken figures in the history of the international online movement. Now living in exile in Mexico, Commander X is ready to tell his own remarkable story and to reveal not just the How but the Why of Anon’s modus operandi.

Christopher Mark Doyon, aka Commander X, personifies the trajectory of American activism “from the streets, to the Internet, and then back to the streets,” says journalist and author David Kushner, one of several observers, compadres, and detractors who provide the context—and, sometimes, reality check—in which Commander X’s rough and righteous odyssey unfolds.

We are introduced to Commander X by Toronto novelist Ian Thornton who confesses that, at first, he couldn’t believe that the thin, craggy, talkative panhandler he’d befriended was a cyber warlord who’d been on the run from the FBI for six years. 

We soon learn Doyon is an old-school revolutionary. As a computer-smitten teeager, he fled a difficult childhood in rural Maine, moving Zelig-like through various activist hotspots and taking up hacking long before most of us had heard the term. He considers himself a freedom-fighter who’s helped shape the 21st century.

When PayPal, Mastercard, and VISA blocked people from using their services to support Wikileaks, Commander X led the charge to nuke their websites, costing millions and waking the FBI up to the power of Anonymous. When the Egyptian government cut off the Internet during the Arab Spring, Commander X was one of the lead hackers to turn it back on.

More recently, as Homeland investigates Russian election hacking, Commander X says he knows that the Russian hackers are the real deal—he’s seen them lurking in the digital world through which he continues to stride.

“I’ll see you all later tonight on Anonymous Bites Back,” says Doyon, closing his livestream from a town square in Mexico. “Look for that on Twitter. I’ll be on, expect me.”

Premiered at Hot Docs 2021

Beyond Men and Masculinity

This is not a film about men versus women. Beyond Men and Masculinity explores how men see themselves, how they relate to the people they say they care about and how the personal impacts the political.

What happens when men are taught to disconnect from their feelings in the name of being strong and independent? What is the link between shame and male violence?
Why do we find it hard to value kindness and compassion in men? And what role do women play in defining what is expected from men and masculinity?

A discussion of these sometimes uncomfortable questions is now more crucial than ever. From the therapy room to the political battlefield, this provocative film offers a clear insight into why we must look beyond traditional definitions of men and masculinity.

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