Short On Shorts: Likeness

Short film Likeness from writer and director Dave A. Flores presents the search of a daughter for the truth about her missing mother using the help of a digital copy of her mom. Working with a program that builds a simulation of a person from their social media posts and digital footprint, daughter Kaitlyn, played by Mary Rose Branick, finds herself interacting with a simulation of her mother Fiona, played by Virginia Newcomb. Engaging with a representation of her mom—a mirror of what she put out in the world—she endeavors to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Intellectually Kaitlyn knows she’s working with a simulation; emotionally she struggles with the relationship she had with her real mom.

Statement from writer/director David A. Flores: Black Mirror was right. At least, when I think about the double-edged reality of technology. Our story lives in a heightened, but not far-off, reality. Where you can talk to your departed loved one. Well, an A.I., curated to be the best impersonation of your loved one. At the heart, is a daughter refusing to believe believe her mother is truly gone. That’s the universally human piece.

Likeness explores what a digital copy can tell you about the life of a real person and the insights our public-facing selves reveal about our private lives. And it asks if an A.I. simulation of a real person, someone we knew, can offer an emotional connection, healing or even reconciliation when we can’t interact with them.

Fascinating and thought-provoking Likeness screens as part of the Thriller II block during the 19th Annual Oscar-Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival on Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Watch the Likeness trailer.

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