Wednesday 19 June 2024

Raindance 2024: Eternal You

What if a person's death did not mean their end of life? What if their loved ones could still talk to them long after their body has been cremated or is lying lifeless in the ground? Eternal You—which screens tomorrow as part of this year's Raindance Film Festival—accompanies people who use AI to ‘connect with the dead’. Offering a powerful commentary on the commercialisation of grief, from the perspectives of ethicists and technologists to entrepreneurs, the film follows Joshua who chats day and night with the digital clone of his deceased first love and lets her take part in his everyday life; Christi, who just wants confirmation that her late best friend is doing well in heaven, but has a harrowing experience with his AI likeness; and Jang Ji-Sung, who meets the VR clone of her daughter. 

The inventors of the services deny any responsibility for the profound psychological consequences of those experiences. Numerous competitors hope for a lucrative market, with major players such as Microsoft and Amazon entering the race for afterlife-related services. A new, secular narrative of salvation through ‘digital immortality’ is emerging, as religious and collective forms of mourning lose relevance. From the multi-award-winning directors of The Cleaners (2018), Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck, Eternal You is an exploration of a profound human desire and the consequences of turning the dream of immortality into a product—and in turn the possibility of the end of human finitude.

Source: Margaret London

Images: Max Preiss / Konrad Waldmann