Hot Docs review: More Human Than Human

Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting's look at artificial intelligence and the difference between cinematic robots and real-world ones doesn't quite go far enough

MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN (Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Netherlands, U.S., Belgium). 79 minutes. Rating: NNN

Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting look at the quest to develop artificial intelligence, contrasting the cinematic evolution of robots and “thinking computers” with their real-world development. The doc hits all the obvious notes – oh hai, HAL 9000 – but also sets itself an intriguing challenge when Pallotta commissions some roboticists to design a robot camera that will be able to interview him for his own documentary.

That particular thread doesn’t pay off quite as well as the filmmakers hope, but it gives us a great scene when pals Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater drop by and have a brief discussion about how a truly self-aware camera might impact the future of cinema – or at least lead to a different process than might be possible with a human camera operator.

It’s a moment over too quickly, but it hints at the conversation the film isn’t really willing to have. It’s more interested in watching robots move around than it is in wondering what they might be thinking.

May 2, 6:30 pm, Hart House May 4, 10:30 am, Isabel Bader May 5, 3:15 pm, Hart House

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