I am Mother [2019]

“Contrary to your understandable assumptions, my primary directive is to care for humanity.”


Thanks to everyone who came to the February WATCHERS club! We watched this gem of a film.

The film, directed by Grant Sputore, centres on the life of a young child, brought up in a special unit by a robot. There are no other humans and we’re told that humanity did not survive a cataclysmic event – the details of which are murky. We are shown the child’s test-tube birth, its development in toddler-hood and soon teen-dom as both the child and its carer goes about their lives and routines. The robot, which the kiddo calls ‘Mother’ appears to care for the kid deeply. Then enters Hilary Swank’s character, ‘woman’, and she disrupts their happy existence.

I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t say anything more beyond the above regarding the plot. This is an excellent film. It’s well shot, very well written and had me thinking for days after I had seen it.

There are no names given to the characters beyond their descriptive names: child/mother/woman. In a post-apocalyptic world, it seems apt to strip the characters of identity and instead replace them with human roles. I think if the robot had been referred to directly as MX-123 or something by the child it would have been way easier to distrust from the beginning.

Throughout, the film was very tense.. so tense you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. I felt distrust but did not really know who to aim that distrust towards. I knew one thing for certain, and that was that the child was a total innocent and I think having the shots showing her grow up in front of my eyes lended itself to this impression, added by the nostalgic “Baby Mine” playing as she grew (aka the song Dumbo’s mum sings to him)… but I couldn’t shake this feeling that someone was evil, that something wasn’t right. I wanted to believe the robot was evil, which is the norm right? So when the ‘woman’ came into the scene I was like ‘aha, the woman is the virtuous one; this confirms my bias’ and then later I was like ‘wait a minute, maybe the woman is the one I shouldn’t trust’… It was an emotional rollercoaster.

Later you are presented with a catch-22 – which I won’t spoil – which left me very conflicted. I couldn’t really say I would have done something different given the circumstances. But maybe if you see someone has destructive tendencies, is the most caring thing to give them a gun?

So all in all, brooding excellent atmosphere, simple and thought-provoking story. Cinematography of the film was really good including the expressive look and sound of the robot. I feel like the smooth, motherly voice given to the robot was juxtaposed with the harsh, cold, squared off look of the robot. I liked that everything about the film was designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it absolutely succeeded in that. There were some WTF twists I totally didn’t see coming and was totally floored by. Very enjoyable. Would 100% recommend watching this film.

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I am Human [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“What does it mean to be human? To me it means we can become anything we want…”


This documentary film, directed by Elena Gaby and Taryn Southern, explores the technological advancements of the world’s first cyborgs: Bill, Anne and Stephen

The film opens on Bill who became tetraplegic (unable to move his arms and legs) after a tragic accident. The film shows him currently living in an assisted facility and he explains that he just wants “to move from this point to that point” by himself.

Anne suffers from Parkinsons disease which affects the nerve cells making it very difficult to move about or do anything that requires fine motor skills. We also meet her husband who explains that Anne used to be an artist and hospital volunteer and that this disease has been detrimental to her life. She says “the biggest thing for me was that I would become useless…. a burden in the world” and that symptoms like not being able to smile made it impossible for her to connect with people, that it made her exhausted both physically and mentally.

Stephen has a vision impairment where all he sees is white, and he relies heavily on his sister for emotional and physical help.

We also meet a team of amazing scientists/engineers at a neuroscience organisation focused on “addressing a broken brain”. We see that the technology, which centres around using electrodes to stimulate the brain, hopes to solve some of our biggest problems with regards to diseases that inflict a lot of people. The life-changing impacts this technology has will affect millions of people; it was so cool to see what they’re doing around turning our brain impulses with its 100 billion neurons into digital code which could be manipulated to make those who can’t walk, walk again, those who can’t see, see again. It looks like the tech is in early days and is very experimental – and to some it may seem a bit Frankenstein (“for some people it’s a Sci-Fi step too far”) – but just imagine what we can do if we master our own brains!

They asked an interesting question in the docu: “Are we about to change what it fundamentality means to be human, and if so, are we okay with that?” I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes us human, during this film festival, and it’s not possible to attribute it to one thing. In “Mirror Human” earlier in the week, one of the subjects said that once you had a name you were human, and this docu suggests it’s our ailments that make us human, but it’s cannot be a single element. We’re too complicated for that to be the case. I wonder who we could be if we didn’t have to worry about health implications. Perhaps we would be free to be our truest, most evolved selves if we were free from health inequalities?

The docu also touched on the ethical questions that arise where this technology is concerned, particularly with corporations like Google and others vying for personal data… It warned of the “unchecked power” that they hold and asked us as the audience to really think about what we want for this technology in the future, because it belongs to all of us. With so much science fiction around the subject of implants (Black Mirror et al) and the potential corruption that comes with it, these are questions that require global, intelligent discussion. It concerns me that it would be targeted by any Elon Musk type personality who stands to gain financially from a patent like that which should be used for the good of humankind. Greed should not even factor into decisions of this magnitude. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I frickin love Google. I have Google everything, but do I want them in my brain as well? Hell no.

In conclusion, it was amazing to see these technological advances, the massive health benefits given to the subjects we met earlier and to consider the theoretical implications. I’m really excited to see how this technology develops in the future. Thanks so much to the directors for making this because it’s an absolute gem of a film.

You can watch ‘I am Human’ here. But you’ll need to purchase a film or festival pass.

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Sci-Fi London 2020

SOPHFIFEST’s December 2020 WATCHERS club has been pushed back one week, but for a very good reason!


SCI-FI-LONDON 2020 is happening 8-13 December and due to COVID it’s going to be virtual this year. Cannot wait. Also, tickets are super cheap at £20.20 for the whole festival, or £5 per film if you only want to watch the odd film.

I’m particularly excited about the feature films (synopses below):

  • Live (08/12) – a dystopian story where humans aren’t allowed to be in contact with one another, which given our current COVID/lockdown situation seems very on the nose.
  • Mirror Human (09/12) – this film follows the lives of three characters and explores androids. The synopsis is quite elusive so I guess I will watch and find out!
  • Cosmic Candy (09/12) – a film about a hallucinogenic candy which looks really vibrant and trippy and full of action.
  • Minor Premise (10/12) – this film is about scientific experimentation gone wrong. Ethan finds himself fragmented into different timelines after trying to finish his father’s invention and has to rely on partner/colleague Dr Alli Fisher to find the answers. I’m excited to see how this thriller unfolds.
  • A report on the party and the guests (11/12) – this is a film about a creature on a secret mission but is also about a pandemic and humanity destroying itself.
  • I am human (11/12) – this film is about cyborgs living as part of humanity and explores the human brain and what makes us human.
  • The American Astronaut (11/12) – on my current watchlist. This is one of the top 100 science fiction films of all time, so I’m excited to finally see this.
  • Truth or Consequences (12/12) – the film is set in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (yes, this is a real place!!) and explores the concept of humans colonising new planets but what if you were left behind. I’m really interested in this idea, the further we advance into space exploration and I’m looking forward to this offering.
  • Skyman (12/12) – this film follows Carl who believes he will be the victim of repeat alien abduction. Is he right? Let’s find out! It’s also co-directed by Daniel Myrick of The Blair Witch Project! Woah!
  • I am Ren (13/13) – this film is a thriller about Artificial Intelligence and follows Renata trying to find answers to a mysterious event.

There are also 30+ short films this year to explore. Check them out here.

I’m really excited to see so much diversity in this year’s offering. This is the direction that science fiction film needs to be moving into. More women, more BIPOC/POC, more LGBTQ, more disabled, more neuro-diverse creators and actors. Representation FTW!

Get your pass soon: https://sci-fi-london.com/ SOPHFIFEST will be chatting about films seen on this site and normal social networks so check those out coming soon 🙂 ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK!

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