Pitched on the Work-in-Progress business part of worldwide documentary movie competition Visions du Réel, U.S. director David Borenstein’s sophomore function “Can’t Really feel Nothing” explores the connection between web use and emotional problems.
Borenstein’s debut function doc “Dream Empire,” in regards to the constructing increase in China’s ghost cities, gained the highest prize on the Thessaloniki Documentary Competition in 2017.
The filmmaker has been making expertise movies for networks just like the BBC, Al Jazeera and Vice for years, and stated the time had come to make his personal – a undertaking targeted on what he calls “the huge equipment of programs and applied sciences which can be making an attempt to affect our feelings.”
“It’s an attention-grabbing job however typically it appears like I’m in some kind of Kafka guide: I interview technologists and individuals who make apps, who create the infrastructure of the web that we use. I can’t assist feeling I’m interviewing people who find themselves turning our lives right into a residing hell, as I battle with my very own habit to the web and the way it modifications me.”
Borenstein advised Selection that the title of his movie got here from an interview with a baby therapist in Denmark, the place he lives, who has written a guide about the best way over-stimulation from the web has dulled folks’s feelings in actual life.
“It’s what’s taking place. Children are having much less intercourse as a result of they’re having an excessive amount of pornography on the web: they’re so stimulated on the web that they don’t search intercourse in the actual world. What’s taking place with intercourse and pornography is going on to the total gamut of the human emotional spectrum,” he stated.
Borenstein structured the movie round his narration, dividing it into chapters named after human feelings – pleasure, love, concern, delight, shock, or anger – that go into the precise expertise designed to make people really feel them.
It was shot in China, Denmark, Macedonia, the U.S. and Russia, the place he filmed TikTok propagandists making an attempt to boost emotions of delight amongst younger customers within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In Macedonia, he adopted a health care provider who grew to become an skilled in creating pretend information posts, incomes far more than her physician’s wage, and in China – the place he lived for 10 years – Borenstein explored efficient computing that seeks to measure and affect human feelings, reminiscent of galvanic pores and skin response or facial recognition.
The primary problem, he stated, was to make a expertise documentary that was folks centered.
“So typically, once you watch one of these doc, you don’t really feel the results [of the technology]. You simply take a look at it rationally, but it surely’s a lot more durable to make this sort of movie with robust characters, with a worldwide attain and based mostly in actual characters,” he advised Selection.
That’s the place his previous expertise as a fixer got here in useful, permitting him to seek out the appropriate protagonists.
Borenstein hopes his movie will assist folks replicate on the best way they use the web.
“It helped me take into consideration the best way I do. There’s a lot that should occur for change to return. I’m no skilled – but it surely’s vital for me to make one thing that permits folks to begin interested by it. What the web does to us is past the expertise. It’s in regards to the tradition of utilizing that expertise and seeing what it does to us,” he stated.
“Can’t Really feel Nothing” is produced by Jesper Jack at Copenhagen-based outfit Home of Actual, with the help of Denmark’s New Danish Display screen, the Danish Movie Institute, Denmark’s ministry of training and FilmFyn, Norway’s VG TV and NFTV, Sweden’s SVT, the New York Instances Op-Docs and ZDF/ARTE. At present in post-production, it’s trying to fill a €100,000 ($111,000) funding hole and searching for distribution and worldwide gross sales.
It was certainly one of seven VdR-Pitching tasks introduced within the business part at Visions du Réel, one of many world’s main non-fiction movie festivals, that runs from April 21 by April 30.