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‘I AM’ review: Suspenseful sci-fi short builds mystery

‘I Am’ asks us what it means to be a human.

I AM is a German science-fiction short film featured at Cinequest Film Festival (March 20-30th) and Cleveland International Film Festival (April 7-20th). In it, a woman named Noé, who lives alone in the forest, one day finds the body of a young woman while she is out walking. The young woman is actually an android, and Noé brings her home, in hopes of finding out what she was doing out there.

Noé suffers from disturbing dreams that cut into the main storyline- we don’t often get to see short films that use these sorts of alternative narratives, and I AM manages to fit these in quickly and without adding any confusion to the narrative. These loud and suspenseful dream sequences also often contrast against many eerily quiet moments.

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As Noé tries to find out what the androids story is — who built her and how she ended up out in the woods — the android asks her existential questions like “who built you?” and “what is your purpose?” right back. It’s very charming, and also thought provoking. There are more moments of humor and charm, and it’s absolutely adorable when the android learns to dance. 

The short film becomes increasingly creepy as the android begins to emulate Noé. The film is excellently paced as the tension builds up and reaches an action-packed crescendo, leading to a mysterious and sad ending. That this short film manages to capture so many different moods, and bring the viewer right along with them for the experience, is no small feat. 

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I AM feels like it could easily be an episode of Black Mirror or another speculative fiction anthology, and a great episode at that. Featuring two Black women in the leading roles, I AM takes science fiction away from not only the casts we usually see, but also away from typical plot lines, bringing us into bold new territory as the film asks us questions about technology, relationships, and what it means to be a human. 

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