The live action Ghost in the Shell hitting theaters later this month is only the latest in a long line of Hollywood blockbusters exploring the paranoia around machines overtaking man. "Counter-inspired" by the Scarlett Johansson revision, Metrograph Head of Film Programming Aliza Ma has curated 19 films documenting the evolving attitude of artists toward sentient machines. The series, titled The Singularity, kicks off tomorrow, March 17, with one of the most recognizable indictments of AI in film history: Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Scarlett Johansson helms the controversial Ghost in the Shell as The Major, leading to accusations of Hollywood whitewashing the Japanese property. "I saw that the film was coming out, I saw the discourse around it, and I was inspired to show the original one to avoid that discourse altogether," Ma tells Creators. "Ghost in the Shell was such a watershed moment in animation and cinema. I've always had a mind to show it with some context. This was the perfect time."
Ma and the Metrograph team are taking the opportunity of the Ghost in the Shell hype to contextualize what is happening with automation in the real world. "The technology is rapidly catching up with the fantasy of the past few years," says Ma. "It's eerie to watch what people imagined 10 or 20 years ago in Blade Runner or A.I., which is taken for granted as real technology now." With the uptick in factories using robots, AI, and 3D printing to increase efficiency, it could be a matter of time until human labor is made obsolete. Some of the films screening at the Lower East Side theater over the next month help reconcile this new techno-centric reality, and some rightly question what it means to be human once self-aware machines exist.
Here are just a few of the films screening at the Metrograph:
See the full listings and buy tickets from the Metrograph theater here.