Thu 7 Mar 19
As our virtual worlds become increasingly realistic, will we be able to keep a grip on reality?
Mnemophrenia, a feature-length drama set in a future where ever more realistic VR has left us questioning our memories, has just premiered at the 44th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival, picking up a special award, the Festival Director’s Commendation.
The film is University of Essex lecturer Dr Eirini Konstantinidou’s debut feature as a Director. She has previously won awards for two of her short films, Snapshots and I Love You..?
Mnemophrenia is defined as: ‘A condition or a state characterized by the coexistence of real and artificial memories, which affects the subject’s sense of identity’.
The film uses three interlocking stories to show the impact of advanced VR on different generations of the same family. As their real and virtual experiences become almost indistinguishable, the characters descend into psychosis.
Dr Konstantinidou also co-wrote and co-produced Mnemophrenia. She interviewed experts in VR, neuroscience and psychology, then used extensive improvisation to develop the film’s dialogue, in conjunction with her cast.
Dr Konstantinidou said: “I wanted to imagine our species on the brink of its next evolutionary step, aided by technology. Where many sci-fi films fetishise the technology they include, I wanted to stay with the human element. I wanted to ask questions about human identity in the age of virtual reality. Who are we and where are we going?”
Dr Konstantinidou is from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies. Her PhD in Film formed the basis of the film, which took seven years to complete.
She explained: “The film was almost wholly self-funded, which meant it had to be made slowly. However, I also wanted to shoot each part separately so that I could show the previous story to the subsequent part’s cast during their improvisation workshops, mirroring the theme of later generations standing on the shoulders of their ancestors’ experiences.”
Boston Science Fiction Film Festival is the longest running genre film festival in the US. Now in its 44th year, it runs across 2 weeks in February. Commenting on Mnemophrenia’s award, Director Garen Daly said: “Need your faith in indie films restored? Look no further than Mnemophrenia. Compelling. Smart. Integrated. Great story. It bodes well for director Eirini Konstantinidou. She’s someone to watch.”
Mnemophrenia is continuing its festival run. Konstantinidou is currently developing her second feature as well as a possible TV series based on Mnemophrenia.
For more information about Mnemophrenia and to view the trailer, visit the website.