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Award-winning film to be screened and streamed

  • Date

    Fri 25 Oct 19

An award-winning film by an Essex academic will reach a wider audience from today - and staff and students have the chance to watch it for free.

The feature-length drama, Mnemophrenia, launches today on Amazon and staff and students have the chance to book free tickets for a screening on 14 November.

The film is the debut feature by Dr Eirini Konstantinidou, a lecturer in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies. She previously won awards for two short films, Snapshots and I Love You..?

Set in a future where ever-more realistic Virtual Reality (VR) has left us questioning our memories, the drama premiered at the 44th Boston Science Fiction Film Festival and picked up a special award, the Festival Director’s Commendation. Garen Daly, the Festival’s Director, 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."

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 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?”

The film’s writers invented the fictional condition which gives the film its title. Dr Konstantinidou said: “It's a portmanteau of the words 'mneme' and 'schizophrenia'. In the film 'Mnemophrenia' is defined as "a condition or a state characterised by the coexistence of real and artificial memories, which affects the subject's sense of identity.""

Dr Konstantinidou directed, 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.

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.

The free screening for staff and students is on Thursday 14 November, at FirstSite.