Memory Box is Dystopic Sci-Fi Done Right

By  · Published on November 4th, 2016

Short of the Day

OR, Dominance by Surrogacy

Memory is a tricky thing. We consider it to be an accurate recollection of past events, but this is very far from the truth. Memory is subjective, every aspect of it, and built more on your perception of and emotions towards events than the facts of the events themselves. Memory is not a document, it is a fable, based on reality, yes, but warped by the person you are, the beliefs you hold, and the conceptions you’ve formed about life, the universe, and everything. We remember things, in short, the way we want to remember them, for better or worse.

Naturally, a concept as open-ended as memory makes perfect fodder for science fiction, especially the dystopic kind. In season one of Black Mirror, the episode “The Entire History of You” solved the problem of subjective memory by implanting recording devices in human beings that would allow events to be internally played back. The short film Memory Box deals with the same sort of problem, that of trying to “solve” subjectivity, but in a completely novel and decidedly less-technological way, which to me at least makes it significantly more sinister.

In Memory Box, a young woman (Mackenzie Davis, Halt and Catch Fire) works as an actress for a company that recreates memories as performances directed by the clients the memories belong to. Want to remember the best baseball game of your youth? Or the night you proposed? Or the last time you saw your father before he died? Tell the company who you need and they’ll set you up with a link to a live feed where the memory is recreated by actors according to any and all details you provide. For a price of course. The solution to subjectivity this provides is to turn memories into things you can see, things you can control, thus making them “real” in the sense they’ve been brought out of the mind and into the world, albeit still from a pointed perspective. The client (Shane Carruth, Upstream Color) who’s hired our heroine wants her to go a little farther than the job, and her morals, should allow.

Memory Box was written by Audrey Ewell and directed by her and Aaron Aites. Together they previously made a pair of documentaries, Until the Light Takes Us about Norwegian black metal, and 99% The Occupy Wall Street Collaborative Film, but Memory Box is their first stab at fiction. Sadly, however, Aites passed away earlier this year before the film was completed. But no doubt he would have been very proud of the finished product, which is intelligent, eerie in a truly engaging way, and beautifully shot. There’s an Indiegogo page set up to cover completion and marketing costs of the film where you can learn more about the project, Aites, Ewell, and donate if you’re so inclined. Memory Box was intended as a proof of concept for a feature film, and to my eyes there’s plenty here to expand upon. Check out the film, check out the page, and if nothing else, share it all on your social media to get it in front of as many eyes as possible.

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