Greg Pak* | USA | 2002 | 35MM | 85:00 | Colour | Toronto Premiere
How does a first-time feature director out-do the million-dollar sci-fi special effects moguls with a small indie picture? The answer seems to be in injecting a little heart and soul into the steely frame of this futuristic tale. Told through a quartet of vignettes, Robot Stories contrasts the hidden humanity of machines against the rigid artificial nature of humans in the spirit of the speculative fiction of the ’50s and ’60s.
In “My Robot Baby”, an upwardly mobile couple (Tamlyn Tomita and James Saito) must care for a surrogate robot baby before they are allowed to adopt a child. Amusing at first, the cute toy emits beeps and whistles to communicate its level of comfort – but soon, neglect reveals an ugly side to parenthood.
A mother (Wai Ching Ho) struggles to deal with a sense of helplessness and impending grief as she waits for her adult son to awake from a coma in “The Robot Fixer.” A box of childhood toy robots stirs troubled memories, and she sets out to repair and complete his collection in an effort of distraction that turns into an act of devotion.
An office gets the latest technology, a G9 iPerson, in “Machine Love.” The android (played by director Greg Pak) is used for simple data entry tasks, but the ridicule and objectification he experiences from coworkers only betrays their cruelty and weaknesses. His only solace is the lonely female android in the office tower across the street.
It seems like in ideal alternative to a cold grave when your memories are scanned into a computer so that your consciousness lives on after death. In ”Clay”, a dying sculptor (Sab Shimono) is reluctant to submit to this unreal existence for fear of losing the many sensual experiences of both his art and daily life.
Pak pulls back the curtain of wires and dangling diodes for an insightful and touching look at technology and emotion. His detour into Twilight Zone territory would make Rod Serling proud, with his observations on humankind’s progress into the new century.
Greg Pak studied political science at Yale University, history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and film production at the NYU graduate film program. His short films have won many awards, with Fighting Grandpa garnering over 20 prizes. He was the cinematographer for the Academy Award-winning documentary The Personals, and he also edits FilmHelp.com and AsianAmericanFilm.com.
Helen Lee* | Canada | 2001 | Video | 2:00 | B&W
When you wish upon a star. A plaintive, girlish rendition of the childhood classic. Commissioned in commemoration of LIFT’s 20th anniversary.
Helen Lee is a Toronto-based filmmaker. Her films include the feature film The Art of Woo, and the shorts Subrosa, Prey, My Niagara and Sally’s Beauty Spot. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto, New York University, Whitney Independent Study Program, and the Canadian Film Centre. Helen has worked as a music critic for NOW magazine, film distributor at Women Make Movies, director observer with Atom Egoyan, and is a member of Cinematheque Ontario’s advisory group. She recently completed a performance-based video installation, Cleaving, for the 2002 Werkleitz Biennale and is currently working on a number of projects, including an adaptation of Kerri Sakamoto’s award-winning novel, The Electrical Field.
1:99 Short Selection
Memories of Spring 2003
Peter Chan | Hong Kong | 2003 | Video | 3:00 | Colour | Toronto Premiere
Peter Chan Ho Sun was born in Hong Kong. His first directorial effort was Alan and Eric – Between Hello and Goodbye (1991). Chan’s other films include He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (1994); Comrades, Almost a Love Story (1996), which garnered a record-breaking nine awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and Hollywood feature Love Letter. Chan also produced the film Jan Dara from Thailand, and the Korean production One Fine Spring Day.
*Directors in attendance