A NEW feature film on virtual reality, created by a senior lecturer at the University of Essex, has been selected for special screening at a national festival.
Dr Eirini Konstantinidou, who teaches film studies at the Wivenhoe campus, has created a film that shows how technology could change our lives in the future.
Her film, Mnemophrenia, also highlights our renewed appreciation for social bonds after months of loneliness experienced during the lockdown.
âThis is a futuristic drama about a new psychosis brought on by people using too much virtual reality technology,â she said.
“This obsession leads users to lose their identity and no longer be able to distinguish between real and artificial memories because all of their thoughts are mixed into one.”
The film, which was fully self-funded for Â£ 20,000 and ran for eight years, premiered yesterday at the Being Human Festival.
Eirini said, âHe explores how society is adapting to cope with the growing state of mnemophrenia and the ever changing technology.
“We see the story unfold over time, through the eyes of three generations of one family who are all affected and involved in different ways.”
At first, the characters become more and more isolated and lose real connections with other people due to their desire to live only through the eyes of technology.
It builds on similarities to experiences of loneliness during lockdown, when people are regularly stuck in their homes and forced to talk to each other primarily through screens.
As the characters sink into crisis, they must overcome their feelings of loneliness and self-obsession to move to the other side, where they can again feel a close bond with other people.
This is achieved through a new type of virtual reality chip inserted into their heads, which allows them to fully imagine what life is like in someone else’s body.
The film ultimately asks questions about who we are and where are we going?
He imagines our species on the brink of its next evolutionary stage.
Eirini added: “It offers a glimpse of a technological society that can learn to embrace the different, where empathy can be achieved through technology and where the fusion of the organic and the digital can lead to a new humanity.”
During the making of the film, Eirini said it was essential that she interview experts in virtual reality, neuroscience and psychology to increase the realism of the film.
She also encouraged the actors to improvise in key scenes to help develop the overall script and dialogue, so that the performances were more natural.
So far, the film has already received worldwide acclaim after winning the Festival Director’s Commendation Award at the 44th Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival, when it premiered at the event the last year.
âIt was a huge honor as the festival is the oldest sci-fi film festival in the United States,â Eirini said.
âWe actually didn’t know we were going to receive an award until the night of the screening.
âThe festival director really liked the film and surprised us by creating the distinction for us.
âHe wanted to help us raise awareness of the film, which was really cool.
This recognition helped Eirini find a distributor and the film is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, YouTube movies, and Tubi TV in the United States.
Prior to joining the University of Essex as a lecturer, Eirini studied Film Studies at Brunel University, where she closely analyzed the history of science fiction cinema and found inspiration to make the films. things differently.
âThe majority of science fiction films focus on dystopia because it is more dramatic and interesting.
âI wanted to step away from that and say, well, maybe technology will make us more human in some ways. It might actually broaden our horizons.
Eirini explained the similarities between the current lockdown and the movie.
âMnemophrenia is, of course, the possibility of people getting lost in virtual reality.
âInstead of reaching out to others, the characters become more isolated.
âIn the current situation, everyone is stuck in their house and we only speak to each other through Zoom.
âAdd fake news and all the rest and it creates a monster of sorts.
âThings like social media give the illusion of connection and communication, but often it’s just a facade. It’s superficial, it’s not real.
However, Mnemophrenia is ultimately about crossing the other side of adversity and finding a positive path forward, which Eirini hopes in real life as well.
âIf we are to be optimistic, maybe future generations will learn from our Covid era and the social media boom that they will use to do something right. ”
Even though it’s too early for our next evolutionary step as humans, she hopes her film will at least inspire people to show more compassion and understanding towards one another.
To watch the film for free on YouTube Live at the festival, followed by a Q&A with Eirini, visit beinghumanfestival.org/event/mnemophrenia-film-night.
To watch the trailer and other videos for the film, visit www.screeninnovation / mnemophrenia.