Miscellaneous articles from EIFF:
My EIFF Staff Profile Page.
The Edinburgh Film Festival begins this week, running from this Wednesday 16th June until Sunday the 27th.
Now in its 64th year, EIFF is the longest consecutively running film festival in the world and HeyUGuys will be there to bring you news, interviews and reviews.
Our correspondent Nicola Balkind tells us what we’ve got to look forward to.
This year features an electric programme. Artistic director Hannah McGill has continued the trend towards first- and second-time filmmakers and the prominence of British films and premieres.
Leading attractions include the European premieres of Toy Story 3, Mr Nice, the long-awaited World’s Greatest Dad, and The Runaways. The retrospective this year is entitled After the Wave and features the forgotten classics of British cinema from 1967-1979, which features a new print of Powell & Pressburger’s The Boy Who Turned Yellow.
The Rosebud strand is a big part of this year’s festival, featuring first and second films from upcoming directors. The Animation and Shorts strands are also particularly strong this year, injecting some vitality into short-form cinema that is less prevalent in cinema.
The big draw this year is, of course, the opening gala: Slyvain Chomet’s The Illusionist. The script from Jacques Tati is set in 1950s Edinburgh, Chomet’s adopted home.
If, despite the festival’s rebirth as a home for new and upcoming filmmakers, you are still interested in the high-profile guests, there will be an in-person BAFTA Scotland Interview with the newly-knighted Sir Patrick Stewart. Nick Hornby, still fresh off the critical success of An Education, will also be taking an in person Q&A. Slyvain Chomet will also be here to present a panel on The Making of the Illusionist. Other guests include America Ferrera of Ugly Betty fame, Ryhs Ifans, Tilda Swinton, and Mark Cousins.
I will be doing a little reportage from the festival, so keep an eye out for updates and reviews!
What are you excited for at this Edinburgh International Film Festival?
Thursday, 27 May 2010 Written by Nicola Balkind
Since the dawn of cinema, filmmakers have been preoccupied with robots and their roles within the human world. From Fritz Lang’s humanoid robot in Metropolis to GERTY, the companion robot in last year’s Moon, our conception of robots is coloured by their human traits. Nicola Balkind looks at seven films that exemplify the anthropomorphosis of robots onscreen.
Fritz Lang’s expressionist classic is set in 2026 in the fictional title city of Metropolis, a futuristic urban dystopia in which the upper class or city planners lead lavish lives as the working class live and work underground. Freder, son of the autocratic leader Joh Fredersen, sees the plight of Maria, the subterranean matriarch, and seeks her out in order to ease their plight. Meanwhile, the scientist Rotwang assists Fredersen in quashing the underground revolution by building a robot in Maria’s image to mislead the masses.
The pivotal scene involves the steel-plated robot’s transformation, where it becomes a perfect rendering of Maria’s image. The robot is then ordered to incite the workers to revolt. The highly sexualised robot Maria is an image that is diametrically opposed to the real Maria, who is characterised primarily as a mother. The robot Maria’s half-closed left eye and rigid, quick movements are associated with the fears of technology perceived as threatening and demonic.
Passionate Freeman Lowell is the sole eco-warrior aboard an aborted space conservation mission. After disposing of his co-workers, Lowell befriends the onboard repair robots, and names them Huey, Dewey, and Louis. He alters their abilities to enable them to performing surgery on his injured leg, play cards and keep him company, and soon their individual personalities emerge.
Though boxy and non-android – they waddle like robotic ducks – their anthropomorphic traits are born through Lowell’s reactions. His nurturing, one-ended discussions transform them from functional machines to companions, bestowing them with human traits of concern, the urge to nurture and to love. He is like a child ascribing emotions to his toys and, by becoming extensions of his personality, these robots truly think and feel.
The robots of Star Wars IV: A New Hope are divided into two types: those identifiable by form and those identifiable by function. C-3PO is the Metropolis style anthropomorphic android with full lexical abilities; and R2-D2: the Huey-Dewey-and-Lewey-esque utilitarian astromech. C-3PO is all but human in appearance. When he offfers to donate his own parts to save R2-D2, his altruism further anthropomorphises him – but does he love R2-D2 as a companion, or is he programmed to further the lives of his fellow robots?
The humanoid robots of Kubrick’s future, played by humans, are extensions of the human form: sleek, intelligent, skilful, and de-anthropomorphised by their lack of physical flaws. A machine (though it seems sacrilegious to call him one) is soon developed that truly replicates the physical characteristics of a child, with one solitary goal: to obtain a mother’s love. David (Hayley Joel Osment) is the first genuinely convincing humanoid robot in this story and in film, the dilemma shared thus: he looks real – orga – to outsiders, but is outcast by those who know he is mechanical. Like C-3PO, David is anthropomorphised in contrast with his robotic counterparts.
Rather than physical, this anthropomorphism is achieved by amplifying his emotions and provoking empathy on a deeply personal level, making them an intrinsic part of David’s character. Unblinking yet overwhelmingly sweet, David is neither fully orga nor mecha. Drifting quietly between two forms of being, he is finally granted his wish to become a real boy. Ultimately, he teaches the advanced robots of human behaviour; carrying over the true essence of humanity into a new era.
In the year 2035, humans are served by a system of worker robots. The air-tight Three Laws of Robotics prevent these robots from harming the humans whom they serve. Detective Spooner (Will Smith), however, is certain that the death of roboticist Dr. Alfred Lanning – the father of United States Robotics – was caused by these suspicious androids.
I, Robot concerns itself with the growing danger of allowing technology into the home. Compounded by eerie smiles and soft-spoken slave vocabularies, the androids of I, Robot disseminate an innocent yet foreboding presence. Every physical aspect of their humanoid appearance, nimble jointed limbs, and blank stares makes them at once unassuming and intimidating. Controlled by a central nervous system – a female-voiced machine named V.I.K.I – the set-up practically screams developing sentience.
Waste Allocation Load Lifter E-Class, or Wall-E, is the last of his kind left on Earth. The curious cuboid with binocular eyes rescues and collects remnants from the human waste he diligently compacts. Sifting out the cultural gems like a futuristic panhandler, Wall-E learns of, and yearns for, the most revered human traits through the medium of film. The hand-holding protagonists of Hello, Dolly! teach him ‘That is all that love’s about…’ and never to come home until he’s kissed a girl.
Wall-E’s naive demeanour recalls the tandem childlike innocence and persistent genius of silent clowns Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. His charming un-worldliness contrasts sharply with the ‘real’ humans, who gorge themselves into a state beyond recognition. Wall-E’s devotion to another anthropomorphic robot, Eve, and his willingness to return to his lonely world glows with an innocence surpassing even the most ideal vision of humanity.
On the far side of the moon, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is the sole mechanic on the LUNAR moonbase. His 3-year contract is close to expiration, and the only real-time contact he receives is from GERTY, the on-board assist robot, voiced by Kevin Spacey. GERTY is anthropomorphised only by the yellow emoticon on his tiny screen. His smooth voice is calm and reassuring, with a paternal and consistently empathetic tone.
In moments of surprise, GERTY’s expressions betray falseness, making his tone seem ominous and deceptive. The robot is not omniscient, however, and can be manipulated by Sam, perhaps unable to read Sam’s true intentions. By revealing the truth behind Sam’s situation, GERTY redeems himself as a trustworthy companion by becoming Sam’s accomplice. The lens above GERTY’s ‘face’ hints at sentience, suggesting a connection that is beyond GERTY’s programmed functions.
We’ve employed Nicola’s services several times at Yomego and every time she has been absolutely fantastic in both outputs and attitude. Supporting our community management team, Nicola has added invaluable expertise in creating customer focused strategies for our clients and helping to draft truly compelling content plans. I have absolutely no hesitations in recommending Nicola’s services for anyone that places important on ensuring outputs are consistently exemplary.
Nicola has been my number one go-to for freelance community management and social media… She is incredibly efficient, she is clear with costs, time estimates and invoicing and completely reliable. She is a breath of fresh air in an industry which is plagued by self-promoting “social media gurus”: her range of skills and experience is broad and authentic. I really appreciate the way Nicola is uncomplicated to work with: she asks quick, straightforward questions about what’s required then sits down and gets the job done without fuss. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Nicola and would certainly work with her again.
Nicola’s contributions to our projects for Channel 4 were invaluable: her huge knowledge of social media developments and online trends, together with her editorial flair and excellent writing skills made her invaluable in roles that encompassed community management, social media marketing, content strategy and product development. Her dedication, creativity, forward-thinking and attention to detail made her a major factor in the success of these projects. It was a pleasure to work with her, and I hope to work with her again!
Nicola and I worked together across several projects in the Yomgeo community management team. Nicola is great to work with, her attitude towards projects is always amazing and she is incredibly efficient, Her work is always of the highest quality, and I’ve learned a lot from working with her.
Nicola was an important member of the Edinburgh International Film Festival Marketing Department and was key in the communication delivery of the Festival. In such a dynamic and demanding environment, Nicola delivered great content and was dependable throughout, an invaluable asset to the Festival.
Nicola helped transform EIFF’s web vision at a time of change. She is assured and confident with her tactics in an ever-evolving industry and, more importantly, generates great content with results. Allied to Nicola’s strategic savvy, it’s a winning combination.
Nicola has worked with Purplefeather on various social media and copywriting campaigns. She is creative, reliable and professional and can be completely trusted with the voice of your brand – rare qualities indeed!
Nicola was a pleasure to work with. She managed a number of our clients social media and content strategy with a brilliant flair to adapt her creative skills for each of their brands guidelines. She also provided social media training which was highly informative and engaging. Nicola is highly knowledgeable and is constantly in touch with the forefront of all social media developments. She provides all her work in a professional and timely manner. Nicola is comfortable presenting and talking to clients. I would have no hesitation in recommending Nicola. Great person to work with!
Nicola is crazy talented, knowledgeable and efficient when it comes to Social Media and Copywriting. I had the pleasure to work with Nicola on several online marketing projects over the course of almost two years. Not only is she a fountain of knowledge regarding latest trends and best practices for both Social Media and online writing – she is also able to put abstract ideas into action. Any team looking to improve their online presence would be lucky to get their hands on Nicola.
Nicola is an experienced creative copywriter, with a great ability to produce quality pieces quickly and at short-notice. She has a great knowledge of social platforms and ability to apply this knowledge. Nicola is an absolute pleasure to work with and brings her creativity and personality to everything she does.