Tiffany Shlain’s stunning autobiographical film

Connected the FilmOn Sunday I invited my daughter to the Shattuck Cinema in Berkeley for the opening weekend of Tiffany Shlain’s latest film Connected. Since we both work at Cisco, and the movie trailer promised a discussion of internet and connectivity, I thought we’d both find it interesting and relevant to our day jobs. “It’ll be a nice Father-Daughter afternoon out,” I mentioned to Emily.

I had no idea.

Tiffany Shlain is the daughter of Dr. Leonard Shlain, a Renaissance man who was a surgeon, inventor and author. In May 2009 he passed away after a two-year battle with brain cancer. This film is an emotionally raw account of her father’s life and death; of his influence on her and the ideas on language and the brain he developed in his book The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image; of
her own struggle to conceive a second child and of her eldest child’s brush with a life-threatening medical emergency.

She started work on the film five years ago, at that time her Dad was one of her principal advisers on the script. His passing both challenged her ability to complete the film and offered an opportunity to make her autobiography a point of departure for a wide-ranging consideration of the effect of the internet, connectivity and collaboration on society today.

Tiffany has been involved in the promotion of the web as the founder of the “Webby Awards” as well as an early proponent of distance learning.

The film uses animated timelines to span developments in science, technology and innovation from the Big Bang to the present day. She focuses on historical figures such as Einstein, Marie Curie and James Lovelock to detail the evolution of ideas from the era of the printing press to the web. The decline of the honeybee is seen as a leitmotif for the many threats to the planet that patriarchal, left-brained thinking has led to.

However, Tiffany takes an optimistic view of the potential for the interconnected world we inhabit to discover a way out of the crisis. By focusing less on linear text and more on pattern recognition and images, she suggests the Web might begin to undo the centuries exaltation of the masculine, left-brained approach to problems.

As Adi Da Samraj has written in Not-Two Is Peace, Only everybody-all-at-once can change the current chaos. Tiffany’s stunning autobiographical film holds hope that the interconnectivity made possible by the network will indeed become a platform for a sensible resolution to the challenges we all face.

Coming to Theaters

Connected is currently playing at selected theaters in San Francisco, Berkeley and Mill Valley, CA. Over the next six weeks it opens in Portland, OR; Monterey, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Seattle, WA; New York, NY and Denver, CO.

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