Artificial intelligence hits the big screen during DMU film festival

Second year Film Studies students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been busy curating a topical programme of screenings for the university’s annual film festival.


Co-curated and delivered with the Phoenix, Leicester’s independent cinema and art centre, the Sentient Film Festival will run between 21-26 March and has everything from 1980’s nostalgia (Terminator and Robocop double bill) to the unconventional love story (Her).

The fourth collaboration between DMU students and the Phoenix, this year’s festival has a distinct and timely focus on artificial intelligence (AI).
Natalie Fairchild, one of the student’s involved with organising the festival said: “As a class we chose the subject artificial intelligence as there is a big focus on robotics in current films at the minute.”

Senior lecturer in Film, Cinema and TV History at DMU, Laraine Porter, has guided and advised students throughout the project.

She said: “This is such a hot topic at the moment. The Science Museum is hosting a major exhibition of AI and robots and BBC radio is devoting a lot of coverage and discussion on the related ethical issues, which we’ll be dealing with as part of our discussions and introductions to the films.”


One of the students helping to organise the showing of Fritz Lang’s silent classic Metropolis, which includes a live music accompaniment, is Courteney Campbell.

She said: “The class was separated into groups, each organising one day of the festival. Metropolis is being screened in Leicester’s St Mary de Castro church, which is such an incredible setting. I was so impressed when I went to look around.

“It has been stressful at times, but it will all be worth it.”

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Heidi Thomas, who is working alongside Courteney, said: “It is great to be a part of something so unique and there is something quite amazing about using a church to show this film.”

The week kicks off with the students holding a games night at Brewdog, featuring retro computer games and then finishes with a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

A day is also dedicated to education, with expert speakers discussing the themes and developments of artificial intelligence across the history of cinema.

Alexzandra Jackson, the Education Manager at the Phoenix, said: “The relationship we have with DMU is so important to us. It gives us the chance to celebrate the talented students we have here in Leicester, whilst enabling them to gain valuable skills.”

Laraine added: “The festival is so important for the students. It is such a big learning curve for them, as they begin to have an understanding of all the hard work that goes into creating an event.”

Posted on Monday 27th February 2017

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