Emory Cinematheque Presents “A.I. and Film” Series for Spring 2024

The Emory Cinematheque, a series of free, professional film screenings offered by the Department of Film and Media and Emory College of Arts and Sciences, is back for its 42nd season. For Spring 2024, we are pleased to present “A.I. and Film,” curated by Associate Professor Gregory Zinman.  

The use of AI was a central bargaining point in Hollywood’s recent writers’ and actors’ guild strikes and remains a hotly debated topic in terms of automated labor, pedagogy, medicine, business, and warfare. This series examines the provocative ways that artificial intelligence has been depicted in film. While the question of AI’s proliferation, the ethics of its use, and its status as an existential threat loom as our contemporary moment’s twinned technological and epistemological crises, cinema has been wrestling with the subject for decades.  

In cinema, AI takes on many forms: insane supercomputers, killer androids, confused clones, and disembodied lovers. These sentient beings are not only intelligent machines, but also often fully embodied humanoids—clones, cyborgs, mechas, copies, replicants, and droids. AI in movies is deliberately similar to humans in one way or another; their appearance and manner only complicates their status as “other.” Films about AI thus hold up a mirror to humankind and asks us to consider the nature of what it means to be human and whether there are limits to that humanity. They ask us to consider the horizons of possibility for new and different kinds of intelligence, and whether they are compatible with society—and in what ways. They raise questions about the care and ethical responsibility we might have to forms of artificial intelligence. 

“The films in this series make us think about the capacity of machines to be human,” says Zinman, “and, in turn, as our every desire is increasingly datafied, to ask how we are becoming more like machines ourselves.” 

The series kicks off on January 24 with Steven Spielberg’s haunting A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which follows the trials and travels of Henry, a lifelike robot who only wants his adopted mother’s love, and concludes on April 24 with Tom Cruise once again risking his life and limb (in real and “reel” life) to combat “The Entity,” a powerful AI that threatens to upend hierarchies of global power in Christopher McQuarrie’s latest entry in the Mission: Impossible franchise. 

“We are excited to present a wide range of films—from indie comedies to cult classics to state-of-the-art blockbusters—that speak to the fears, hopes, and desires of our current socio-technological moment,” says Zinman. 

All screenings are on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in White Hall, Room 208. The Cinematheque is free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, all screenings will be 4K restorations on DCP. They will be introduced by Zinman, with post-screening Q&A’s. For more information, visit the Emory Film and Media website or call 404-727-6761. 

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