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Sight (SHORT FILM – dystopian SF)

Is it possible for a short film to pack the same punch — philosophically, artistically, culturally, spiritually — that a longer one does? Is it possible for a short film to be as artistically and culturally significant as a feature-length one? If the answer can be “yes” for other storytelling forms, such as written fiction — where many short stories are recognized as classics right alongside novels — then surely the same is true of film, despite the fact that feature-length films get most of the attention.

We humbly submit that the first of this week’s Cinema Purgatorio offerings is, basically a classic. “Sight” is a short film by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo, two students at Bezazel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Or rather, by this point they’re probably former students, because “Sight” served as their graduation film. It has made a considerable splash on the Internet ever since they uploaded it several weeks ago, and as you’ll see, it is an exquisite, and in fact a well-nigh perfect, exploration of current societal trends in full-bore dystopian science fiction fashion. For anyone who has ever contemplated the grim nexus of narcissism, distraction, and the trivialization and corruption of human experience and human relationships that may be portended by the social media revolution, the fusion of humans with machines, and the universal digital interconnection of society, this film hits all the right notes to fascinate and horrify. And it does so not only with a brilliantly conceived and realized script but with beautiful production values, special effects, and lead performances.

Trust us: You want to watch it without knowing too much ahead of time, so that it can surprise you with where it starts and where it’s going. Watch it first, before you read the brief explanatory notes below. And be sure to fullscreen it and turn up the volume.

Media company VentureBeat, which is “obsessed with covering amazing technology and why it matters in our lives,” spoke to May-raz and Lazo by email, and received the following explanation from Lazo for the thinking that went into the film:

“I’m a video game geek and Eran is a film buff, and we both have a passion for sci-fi and technology,” Lazo wrote in an email to VentureBeat. “At first we were set on making a film that had augmented reality in it. We did some research, delved into every kind of augmented tech out there today, and somewhere along the way we thought ‘Hey, I wonder how augmented reality would be like without the device or apparatus barrier. What if we could just SEE augmented reality?’ So we kind of tried to envision the world and how it would act after this kind of technology is standard, and it rolled on from there.”

— Jolie O’Dell, “Beautiful short film shows a frightening future filled with Google Glass-like devices,” VentureBeat, July 27, 2012

Lazo also told VentureBeat that the similarity between the film’s future vision and Google’s augmented reality project called ProjectGlass, which was unveiled earlier this year, represented a serendipitous bit of timing:

As for the Glass connection, Lazo said, “The Google Glass video just came out about a day or two after we started work on Sight. It was pretty cool; it kind of gave us an affirmation that we’re on the right path.”

(Note that for an earlier consideration of a similar theme, you can look to”Stream of Consciousness,” an excellent episode of The New Outer Limits from 1997.)