Spotlight on Ann Shin
When Ann Shin lost her father to dementia, she wanted to do something in his memory, but also about the concept of memory itself. She set out to make the CMF-funded documentary film A.rtificial I.mmortality as a vehicle to explore artificial intelligence and immortality.
“Every documentary starts off for me like a shot in the dark,” says the Toronto-based filmmaker, TV producer, writer and mom of two – whose Emmy-nominated short doc My Enemy, My Brother (2015) made the Oscar shortlist.
“I have this gut feeling of what the film’s going to be about, then embark on it and a lot changes.”
When the editors noted Ann’s human journey could “ground” the film’s abstract concepts, she showcased her story. “I’m glad I did. I don’t always get to do projects with my family, but this was great to do with them. It actually helped me come to peace with where my father’s at and to appreciate the connection we still have.”
While the pandemic delayed A.rtificial I.mmortality, filming in a closed set helped a reluctant Ann embrace the idea of advanced technology as an awesome tool – “if deployed within a proper ethical framework.” Yet even if memories, thoughts, emotions could be preserved, she feels no clone or avatar “could assuage the pain of death or replace the real person.”
Her bet paid off: the film was received with rave reviews on opening night at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and is now having a remarkable international run.