May 5, 2020  (Web Review)

I Am Human

Passion River Films, 91 min., not rated, DVD: $24.99, Apr. 7

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmakers Elena Gaby and Taryn Southern (the latter also a multimedia/video artist) use precise, Kubrickian framing and non-sentational storytelling to depict breakthroughs in human-computer interfacing. Not so much the gee-whiz/future-shock approach of many a cyber-documentary (Transcendent Man, for example) the emphasis is on how “brain hacking” can bring about medical miracles for the afflicted. Here we see a badly paralyzed man in Cleveland wired up at a local technical college for a neurological procedure that may allow him to move again. Thanks to “deep brain stimulation” implants, a Canadian grandmother and artist can literally turn off her crippling Parkinsons symptoms with a flip of a switch. Another Canadian man, long blind, begins to have something approaching vision via California-developed prosthetic eyes. Though a curious tangent into data mining and abuse of information is included as a sort of caution, the overall message here is that becoming a `cyborg’ need not be a nightmarish Terminator/sci-fi movie scenario but, for many patients, a cutting-edge solution to suffering. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (C. Cassady)