Connected: An Autoblogography about Love, Death and Technology

The kaleidoscope of clips in this wide-ranging documentary is so entertaining one could happily watch the whole movie with the sound off. But it would be a shame to miss Tiffany Shlain’s meditations on modern life and technology. Shlain has an unusually long lens on our current state of connectivity: the Bay Area–based filmmaker founded the Webby Awards in the internet dark ages of 1996 and used Facebook and Twitter to crowd-source some of this, her ninth film. Among her earlier works, The Tribe (SFJFF 2006) explored American Jewish identity through the history of the Barbie doll; here she brings that same creativity to examining the human need to link up. While the film opens with Shlain pondering her addiction to her cell phone, it morphs into a poignant tribute to her father, Leonard Shlain, a Mill Valley surgeon and best-selling author whose insights into history won him fans from Al Gore to Björk. He was diagnosed with brain cancer as Shlain began writing the film, and his struggle becomes a major focus of her investigations. Sharing narration duties with the sonorous Peter Coyote, the filmmaker delves into everything from the honeybee crisis to her family’s “technology shabbat” to her struggle to bear a second child, all in an effort to understand our need to connect.
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