Cinebanter

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Monday, May 07, 2012

SIFF Sighting: FIVE STAR EXISTENCE (Documentary, Finland)

Note: I'll be periodically posting reviews from the Seattle International Film Festival throughout June. These write-ups will begin with "SIFF Sighting" so you'll always be able to distinguish them from our regular posts. And of course, for our most recent Cinebanter episode, please scroll down the page.

As members of the information age, are we benefiting from the endless technological advances in our society, or are we losing touch with human nature as a result of adapting to them?

This is the big question that director Sonja Lindén asks throughout this beautifully shot documentary.

The camera takes us on tour to places (farms, forests, etc.) that may not initially come to mind when we think of technology, but which are utilizing its newest toys to make life simpler for humans. In some cases, such as in the logging industry, new equipment has led to a significant reduction in manpower because it simply takes less people to do the work. This is obviously great for the logging companies; maybe not so much for the skilled laborers that will need to find employment elsewhere.

There are also psychologists and professionals in Internet addiction clinics who speak about how detached society is becoming at such a rapid pace because of our collective constant need to be 'plugged in.'

On the flip side, a case is made that children with aggression are sometimes helped by video games, which can channel their energy into something positive, if not entirely productive.

And that's what's great about this exploration: it fairly spotlights both sides of the debate.

For every expert featured who has a problem with the way the world is changing, there is another who stresses the gains that can be made or demonstrates the leaps and bounds that have occurred in a variety of industries that were stale for decades.

Though I could have done without the graphic surgery scenes, the film is shot almost like a moving museum, where every frame could be paused to reflect a precious moment in time—even if the sum of its parts is sensory overload.

FIVE STAR EXISTENCE will screen at the 38th Annual Seattle International Film Festival next month. For tickets, visit the SIFF website.

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