Jerry Hoffmann’s “I AM” Examines the Relationship Between Humans and Our Ever-Growing Relationship With Technology

Sheri Hagen & Melodie Wakivuamina

I AM is a short film by German director Jerry Hoffmann. It explores the necessity of human connection in a world that is growing increasingly more isolated. The topics of isolation and loneliness are well known to most; especially following the global pandemic. Hoffman expands on these concepts with great skill. The film follows the story of a woman, Noé, and a robot, Ela, whom the woman found in the woods surrounding her cabin. The woman has been living all alone until she brought the robot, whom she cleaned and charged, back to her cabin. Over the course of the film, audiences see Ela slowly adopt Noé’s mannerisms and characteristics. With each adoption, she also becomes increasingly life-like. At first, these actions may appear eerie to the viewer, but it slowly becomes clear that Ela is fully embracing the concept of mimicry being the highest form of flattery. 

I AM has very balanced cinematography; with the world outside of the cabin maintaining a cold and dark look, while the cabin radiates a glowing warmth. The dichotomy of the two worlds helps to emphasize the safety that the women, particularly Ela, feel within the cabin and the uncertainty that exists in the forest surrounding them. 

The cast is a small one but that doesn’t diminish the skill and poignancy of the actors. Sheri Hagen (Noé) invites the audience into her world from the first moment she’s on the screen. Hagen skillfully balances the sadness and loneliness of Noé with a clear want for human connection. This adds warmth to her character that invokes empathy in the viewer and is very important in a film with two main characters. 

Melodie Wakivuamina (Ela) fully embraces her role as an android. As a viewer, one may even wonder if Ela is, in fact, being played by a human. As the film progresses, however, the audience is able to see Wakivuamina’s portrayal of Ela morph into a more emotive, human-like android. Not only does she fully embody the physicality of a human-like robot, but her vocality matches that of Siri, Alexa, and other various virtual assistants to a T. Her role as Ela has made it clear that Wakivuamina is an actress to be on the lookout for as she continues her career. 

This film delves into the human desire for connection as well as how intimate, for lack of a better term, our relationship to technology has become. Hoffmann tells a story of a world that may not be too far in the future. Audiences will surely find themselves reassessing their relationships to their cellphones, computers, and more after viewing this film. 

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