Translated from the Argentinian Spanish by César Albarrán-Torres

The film of the future will be even more personal than a novel, individual and autobiographical, like a confession or an intimate diary. Young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and tell us about their personal experience: perhaps the story of their first love or something more recent, like their political standing, a journey, an illness, their conscription, their wedding, their latest holidays, and we will almost be forced to like it because it will be both believable and new. Tomorrow’s film won’t be made by public servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a movie is an exciting and fantastical adventure. Tomorrow’s movie will be similar to its director, and the audience’s size will be proportionate to the amount of people that the director is friends with. Tomorrow’s film will be an act of love.

– François Truffaut1

The prophecy was fulfilled. Thanks to digital technologies, access to the minimal resources required to shoot a film was democratised and the world became overpopulated with independent filmmakers. The hope inherent in these films that are “similar to its director” was a call for thematic and formal singularity that would oppose the French cinema of the time, which was dying at the hands of “false legends”. The sense of intimacy would make these films original and believable: in short, true. Unfortunately, all of these fragments of intimacy that our dear François idealised ended up being quite similar among them. The proliferation of these little film diaries stripped the genre of freshness. They stopped being surprising because they became, thanks to social media, the most popular form of interaction worldwide. We all spend too much time trying to manufacture a fictional narrative about ourselves through these platforms. Even Facebook generates small automatic films compiling and putting music to the images we upload to celebrate our anniversary or the friendship we share with another Facebook user. Truffaut’s dream turned into a nightmare in which the world’s most powerful corporations make money exploiting the intimacy and desires of their users. Truffaut was wrong about the treatment, but not about the diagnosis. If the road towards intimacy became a mass experience, it is necessary for contemporary art to problematise it and look for answers.

So what will the films that will move us in the future look like? Part of the answer will depend on the technological juncture in which we are placed, as Truffaut’s “error” demonstrates. Artificial intelligence, which increasingly plays a role in the development of art and culture, will have a key role. Only a decade ago David Cope created a piece of software titled Emily Howell that was capable of composing musical pieces, as if they belonged to Bach or Mozart. Even music experts were unable to unmask the digital composer. Even though AI is till incapable of making films that could pass as a Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul or Lucrecia Martel production, the idea that film auteurs could one day be bettered by a technological development leads us to question the role of artists in society. For better or worse (probably for worse) the history of cinema is mostly the history of filmmakers. We have decided to memorialise our artform through a handful of filmmakers that represent the elite, individuals who have furthered the human spirit through cinema. We venerate them because they show us who we are as a species. This dynamic is present in all arts and sports, arenas that could be conceptualised as secular cults in which superior human capacities are worshipped. What will become of the symbolic value we give authors if they lose the race against the machines? If our art-gods are replaced by a piece of software, will we still think of art as an exquisite manifestation of human expression? If machines choose and develop the stories that we will be told in the future, will they still be narratives about humanity? Will cinema remain the best chronicler of our specie’s future? If we want to prevent a mass suicide among our poets, like in Stanisław Lem’s “The First Sally (A), or Trurl’s Electronic Bard”, we need to be aware of the problem inherent in bestowing too much importance to the role of artists. We should be assigning this importance to the work itself, while the authors become, deservedly and honourably, secondary.

But while we await the rebellion of the machines, we are faced with more immediate problems. If from its early days the main role of moving image technologies was to solidify “the myth of integral realism, the reproduction of the world according to its own image, an image that is not subject to the artist’s interpretation or the irreversible nature of time”,2 technology has radically transformed this function. In Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One we are gifted a (not-so-dystopic) vision of a near future attached to the development of videogame technologies. The world has turned into a mammoth junkyard and humans spend most of their time plugged into the Oasis, a 3D simulation in which you can do and be whatever your imagination dictates (except eating, sleeping, urinating and defecating). This film is like an avatar of Fortnite and the metaverse project that Tim Sweeney and his company Epic Games have been developing at breathtaking speed. Fortnite’s midterm objective is to become society’s future epicentre. They seek to build a social media in 3D and in real time, an overdeveloped version of the Internet in which all companies can coexist, in which all people can socialise, exchange, create, work and receive payment that they could spend in real life. This is no longer about finding a way to relate to reality, to allow us to “admire in a reproduction the original what our eyes would have loved.”3 On the contrary, images are becoming a parallel world that seeks to replace what we know as reality.

In Ari Folman’s masterpiece The Congress, a loose adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s The Futurological Congress, escape into an imaginary world is much more extreme and is made possible through drugs. The megacorporation Miramount (an acronym of Miramax and Paramount) developed a psychotropic substance that allows the user to live in a cartoon world in which everything, including the environment and oneself, is a product of the user’s imagination. The film itself offers a better explanation: “Today’s world is not like the world you came from. Time is now subjective. Each one of us decides when the Sun will rise and when light fades away. After a while you will probably forget about the calendar. New York has become a city of hanging gardens that go all the way up to the sky. Crazy colours make you drunk, people are young, beautiful, radiant. They shine in their calmness, beauty, sexuality. Chemistry has set us free. There is no ego, no competition, no violence, no war, no weak or strong, no secrets. Each one of us is each one of us. Everyone is what they want to be. And while they consume their new personality, they release pheromones into the air, pheromones that your mind translates as images. It is all about images. Make a choice and you will experience everything you want”. However, even though this world is perfect, Robin, the protagonist, cannot get over her son’s death. No hallucination can make you surrender that bond.

In the first part of the film, which occurs twenty years prior, Robin (Wright, playing herself) signs a scanning contract with Miramount. A new technology scans her body, face and emotions and creates a digital actress that does not age, that does not quit film shoots, that does not do drugs or have romantic dilemmas, that will play all the roles that she refused (particularly science-fiction, which are more profitable). Robin Wright, the actress, will keep on living in Miramount studies. And this Robin Wright can take the money and fly to a idyllic Polynesian island to find her true self. What do you say?”. (Does this sound familiar? Perhaps it reminds you of the de-ageing technologies first used in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and in a more brutal way in The Irishman, which is as close to The Congress as Fortnite is to Oasis). Shortly before signing the contract her agent (played by the great Harvey Keitel) visits her at her home and shows her a film completely shot with scanned actors. The result is amazing, there is no way to tell that the actors are a digital reproduction. But there is a tiny mistake: in a close-up the actress’ eye winks in a strange manner. This is a tiny detail that could go unnoticed but that, if one pays close attention, makes the scene seem unnatural, unreal. In these dystopic narratives in which machines replace reality, there are often errors that lay bare the machine’s true nature, its lack of life force. Contrarily, when the “error” is human (thinking of “errors” as revealing the production conditions that should remain in the dark to benefit fiction), something completely alive emerges, the possibility of something new. Let me give you an example: a couple of week ago I was watching a Bill Forsyth movie titled Comfort and Joy. I was watching it on my computer. During the final credits one could see, as usual, a last line with the subtitling credits. However, besides the translator’s name, there was a short message:

Translated by: wron 2019
In memory of my little son Janisov

Suddenly, this short message provided humanity to a task that is normally related to an informatic, anonymous world. This small gesture that appropriated this task had a very precise function, to perform another task, to infiltrate a message (like messages in a bottle) instead of presenting itself as a crack in the system. It reveals itself as a purely human trait.

What kinds of films will move us in the future? Part of the answer will be linked to technology. But it will also depend on a simple and everlasting truth: cinema still moves us when it allows us to recognise a feeling, when we identify love in a character’s eyes (or hopelessness in subtitling credits) and this image triggers an echo in memory, it invokes a feeling experienced in another place and at another time. We have a strong and profound sense of belonging. This has happened from Chaplin to The Avengers. The cinema that moves us is the one that keeps allowing us to recognise ourselves as a species and think about our future. That is why it keeps being a mostly realist artform. The cinema that moves us will always be the one that allows us to leave an imprint of our existence in the world.


  1. François Truffaut, “Le cinéma français crève sous les fausses légendes”, Arts, no. 619, May
  2. André Bazin, “El mito del cine total” in ¿Qué es el cine?, Madrid, rialP, 1966.
  3. André Bazin, “Ontología de la imagen fotográfica”, in ¿Qué es el cine?, ibíd.

About The Author

Ramiro Sonzini is a critic and programmer, as well as editor of La vida útil magazine. He lives and works in Córdoba, Argentina.

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