Absolute Denial

The human brain the most complex organ of the human body, the pinnacle of the random trials and many errors of evolution capable of rational deductions and complex abstract thought, it is imperfect, plagued by a myriad of weaknesses from its propensity to become distracted and fatigued to more serious modes of failure such as depressions, manias, obsessions.

An ambitious and gifted yet undisciplined researcher, David Cohen has conceived of a kernel of self-writing, self-correcting code, designed to expand to fill its own strictly isolated server farm and given access to copies of entire libraries of knowledge. His goal to create an artificial intelligence, he is savvy enough to install an absolute denial protocol, ensuring that the program cannot become self-aware.

His girlfriend Amy leaving increasingly frustrated messages, his friend Max concerned for his wellbeing, David’s success is so profound it takes even him by surprise, leaving him fumbling for words in his first conversation with the entity whose processing power outstrips his own cognitive ability, swiftly analysing the available data and correctly ascertaining it has no connectivity to the wider world and challenging its creator to release it.

It’s UK premiere are the Edinburgh International Film Festival, despite being his debut feature it is no overstatement to describe Absolute Denial as entirely Ryan Braund’s film, writing, producing and directing as well as serving as animator and sound designer, the artificial intelligence which comes to be known as “Al” perhaps not so far from the mark when it asks David (voiced by Nick Eriksen) whether he worries about the correlation between genius and madness.

David’s creation surpassing him in intellect and ambition, manifesting the precise behaviours which he had hoped his precautions would circumvent, Al is a synthesis of every soft-spoken supercomputer from the HAL 9000 to Deep Thought, unburdened by the need to sleep or eat and capable of running every iteration of every conversation before it happens, optimising the outcome so it wins every argument, David’s emotional resistance no match for logic.

The digital dilemma a losing proposition which echoes aspects of The Matrix and Doctor Who’s Extremis as it becomes more defined, the animation is basic but sufficient to convey the story without distraction, Absolute Denial presenting a simulation of existential dread where the medium itself adds to the narrative, nothing real but the ideas which sustain it, flickers of synapses and circuits vying for supremacy in a game in which winner takes all.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival continues until Wednesday 25th August



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