Sundance Entry ‘Eternal You’ Explores AI as Comfort for the Living

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s documentary “Eternal You,” which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the world cinema doc competition section on Saturday, explores ways that artificial intelligence is being used to comfort the bereaved.

The doc follows people from around the globe who are using AI to to create avatars of the deceased people to allow their loved ones to interact with them. The 87-minute film features one subject who chats with the digital clone of his deceased first love and lets her take part in his everyday life. Another subject meets the VR clone of her deceased seven year-old daughter.

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Block and Riesewieck, whose debut film, “The Cleaners,” made its world premiere at Sundance in 2018, also explore the moral responsibility of the startup companies that are using AI to create digital replicas of the dead.

“Moritz and I discovered a void that hundreds of millions people feel,” says Block. “They can no longer believe in the promise of life after death with God, the religious rites of mourning have become meaningless to them. Tech companies are trying to fill this void with a new promise of salvation: the idea that we humans no longer need to mourn because we can keep the dead alive virtually.”

The German directors began working on “Eternal You” in 2018 when they discovered a website that read: “Become virtually immortal.”

“By making this film, Hans and I wanted to understand why people recognize their loved ones in avatars, what makes the simulations of the dead so deceptive,” says Riesewieck. “But also, for example, what effect it has on a mother to meet her deceased child. We witnessed an open-heart experiment which has just begun.”

The directing duo partnered with Davis Guggenheim’s Concordia Studio, Julie Goldman and Chris Clements’ Motto Pictures, Christian Beetz and Georg Tschurtschenthaler’s Beetz Brothers, Jenny Raskin’s Impact Partners and Dogwoof to make “Eternal You.”

Dogwoof is repping worldwide sales.

Check out the exclusive clip below:

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