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.

Searching for Nika

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine and bombed Kyiv, film director Stas Kapralov’s family dog, Nika, ran away… Determined to find her, Stas sets out into the devastation and documents his journey as he joins volunteers helping to rescue animals. Becoming a part of their cause, Stas films the trials and successes of the volunteers as he continues his search for Nika, which takes him to ‘Sirus’ Animal Shelter, the largest in Europe, housing 3,500 animals, and still receiving emaciated and hungry dogs daily. There he meets Alexandra, the shelter director, who regularly risks her life to find food for the animals and is determined never to abandon them. Alexandra’s iron inspires Stas, and even though he is unable to locate Nika, he does not give up hope and decides to take a more active role in helping the volunteers and animals in need.

Joining forces with another volunteer, Olena, Stas documents and aids in rescuing a blind and abandoned lion, Ruru, as she’s brought across the Ukrainian border to Poland. Later, he meets Alex, a volunteer who helped Kyiv inhabitants escape the city at the start of the war and now risks his life rescuing cats left behind by their owners… Among the rubble of a bombed and burned stables, Stas hears Yura’s story, whose horses were like family members, many dying in the bombings, as he now searches for a safe home for them… In another instance, Stas journeys to Harkov, experiencing mortar shelling first-hand, as he becomes part of urgent evacuations of animals at a zoo actively being bombed, where two volunteers had been killed in previous days…

What begins as a journey motivated by the disappearance of his dog, Nika, becomes a mission to document and aid in a humanitarian movement to help as many animals as possible in Ukraine. Documenting and participating in this journey, Stas discovers stories of altruism and humanity amidst the harshest landscape of war…  and by the end of his journey, Stas finally finds out what happened to his dog Nika.

Backlash: Misogyny in the Digital Age

In 2017, the #MeToo hashtag shook the world, sparking an unprecedented wave of sexual assault revelations in the Western world. Today, the storm of virulent misogyny is raging on, flooding our screens with harassment, defamation, sextortion, revenge porn, rape & death threats, and more. According to the UN, 73% of women are abused online.

Backlash: Misogyny in the Digital Age plunges us into the vortex of online misogyny and documents hatred towards women. This bleak opus, reminiscent of a psychological thriller, follows four women across two continents who have found themselves victims of vile online threats and harrassment. What is it like to live with this so-called virtual violence? That’s what we aim to show by closely following the victims in their daily lives. As in a horror movie, we witness in real time the waves of hate that assail them, the fear that pervades their private lives, and the loss of their sense of security in public spaces.

Their lives shattered by a loss of confidence, and sometimes shame, Backlash reveals the devastating effects digital violence has on their victims, and brings to light the singular objective of cyber-misogyny: to silence women who shine.

Many victims of cyber-violence experience unimaginable horrors, with results too tragic for words. Others, proud warriors, will stand tall and refuse to be silenced.

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 Pretendians

In Canada, a number of public figures have made the front pages for one reason: each has been alleged to be a ´Pretend Indian´. In other words, someone who claims distant indigenous identity but upon deeper scrutiny has been accused of stealing jobs and opportunities from real natives. 

But why would someone fake an indigenous identity?

That question is the premise of The Pretendians, as we cross Canada revealing what really lies behind this explosive issue. We go on the hunt for knock-off west coast indigenous art, witness an explosion of dubious Status Indian Claims to get cheap fuel, and unpack where the claims of blood-quantum come from (that idea that one drop of Indian blood is enough to claim indigeneity). We meet people truly seeking, and asking, if they are indigenous – or not – and meets a university teacher fighting Pretendian persecution.

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.

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

——————–

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.

Big Fight in Little China Town

Big Fight in Little Chinatown is a story of community resistance and resilience. Set against the backdrop of the unprecedented rise in anti-Asian racism, the documentary takes us into the lives of residents, businesses and community organizers whose neighborhoods are facing active erasure.

Coast to Coast the film follows Chinatown communities resisting the pressures around them. From the construction of the world’s largest vertical jail in New York, Montreal’s fight against developers swallowing up the most historic block of their Chinatown, big box chains and gentrification forces displacing Toronto’s community, to a Vancouver Chinatown business holding steadfast, the film reveals how Chinatown is both a stand-in for other communities who’ve been wiped off the city map, and the blueprint for inclusive and resilient neighbourhoods of the future.

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.

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.

To Rent or Buy click Here.

Mind Forward

The symbiosis of the brain / mind and artificial intelligence will give rise to a new humanity, a kind of ´super-humanity´.

Brain-machine communication will allow that the cognitive capabilities of human beings will be enhanced, giving rise to the first augmented humans. Connected brains will lead to powerful synthetic telepathy technologies making it possible to not only to read other person’s thoughts, but also manipulate them. But where what are the potential benefits and pitfalls of these new technologies?

Neuro – technologies are about to cause a radical social shift that will change our understanding of the inner self and our very conception of reality. Neuro – rights will be foremost, necessitating regulations that guarantee the privacy of our conscious or even subconscious thoughts.

Mind Forward explores the frontiers of this brave new world.