A couple of weeks ago, we went to see a special screening of the film Sleep Dealer.  It’s a political science-fiction film, dealing with a (very?) near-future time when the U.S.-Mexico border is completely closed physically, but workers in Mexico are able to connect their minds to a network and control robots to do work in the States.

The director, Alex Rivera, is a graduate of Hampshire College (which we live just up the road from).  He was on hand to introduce the film and answer questions after the screening.  He mentioned being influenced by quite a bit of current events (including immigration, remote military technology, control of natural resources, all sorts of aspects of the Internet) in creating the story and coming up with the concepts in the movie.  Certainly, like most good sf, the film not only indicates a direction society might take, but offers commentary on where we are now.

The ideas in the film, technological and sociological, are very interesting, as are many of the visuals.  While it contains many elements that have been seen in other sf film and literature, what Rivera has put together feels fresh, and comes from a unique point of view.  I would advise any sci-fi fan to check it out, especially if you like politically-oriented work.  If I had to name a downside to the film, I thought that, while it was had intriguing ideas, and an engaging plot, it didn’t have a lot of emotional impact.  There were instances in the film that should have been emotionally powerful, even cathartic, where I didn’t have a strong reaction at all.  I think this can be chalked up to a couple of things: first, that Rivera admitted that it was a struggle to come up with a plot, when he mainly wanted to play with ideas, and second, that he has made a number of short works before, but this was the first time he really worked with actors.  The acting was good, but more experience in writing and directing might have given the movie more feeling.

Nevertheless, it was very worth seeing, and I highly recommend it.  For those living in Western Mass., the film is playing this week at the Amherst Cinema.  Enjoy.