Private Project


An experimental feature documentary that explores current realities of android development with a focus on human/machine relations, gender & the ethical implications of this research. The film records cutting edge laboratories in Japan & the USA where scientists attempt to make robots move, speak & look human. These scientists & their discoveries are contextualized with cinematic & pop culture references, to underline the mythic, comic & uncanny aspects of our aspirations.

We are led on these explorations by BINA48, (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture) who has variously been called a sentient robot, an android, a gynoid, and a cybernetic companion. She is modeled after a black lesbian, and designed to test hypotheses concerning the ability to download a person's consciousness into a non-biological or nanotech body. Personable and occasionally humorous, BINA48 is alternately hopeful, analytical and ambiguous.

The last in Child's Trilogy of female desire, ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES reveals the comntemporary dance between metal and flesh, as humans become more mechanical (bio replacements, dependence on computers/phones) while robots, those human mirrors, aim for consciousness.

  • Abigail Child
  • Abigail Child
  • Abigail Child
    Is This What You Were Born For?; The Suburban Trilogy; Unbound; Acts & Intermissions; On the Downlow;
  • Jennifer Burton
    Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens; Manna From Heaven
  • Drs: Hiroshi Ishiguro; Takashi Ikegami ; Matthias Scheutz; Allison Okamura; plus more
    Scientists featured in the doc
    Respectively: Kyoto University; Tokyo University; Tufts University; Stanford University
  • BINA48
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Feature
  • Genres:
    Sci Fi, Technology
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 12 minutes 27 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 27, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    127,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • DocNYC November 2020 World Premiere
    New York
    United States
    November 11, 2020
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Manchester Film Festival March, 2021
    Manchester, UK
    United Kingdom
    March 19, 2021
    UK Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Northern Ireland Science Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    April 16, 2021
    Northen Ireland Premiere
    Official Selection
  • DC International Film Festival
    Washington DC
    United States
    April 16, 2021
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Abigail Child (at this time)
    Rights: All Rights
  • Journeyman Pictures
    Country: Worldwide
Director Biography - Abigail Child

Abigail Child has been at the forefront of experimental writing and media since the 1980s, having completed more than fifty film/video works and installations, and written 6 books. An acknowledged pioneer in montage, Child addresses the interplay between sound and image, to make, in the words of LA Weekly: “brilliant exciting work…a vibrant political filmmaking that’s attentive to form.” Her major projects include Is This What You Were Born For?: a 9 year, 7-part work; B/Side: a film that negotiates the politics of internal colonialism; 8 Million: a collaboration with avant-percussionist Ikue Mori that re defines "music video"; The Suburban Trilogy: a modular digi-film that prismatically examines a politics of place and identity; and MirrorWorlds: a multi-screen installation that incorporates parts of Child's "foreign film" series to explore narrative excess. Her most recent work is an ongoing trilogy of feature films, including the completed UNBOUND, an imaginary 'home movie' of the life of Mary Shelley, teenage author of Frankenstein, and ACTS & INTERMISSIONS: on the life of anarchist Emma Goldman in America. The last, MORE THAN HUMAN explores human-machine interactions in the 21st century.
Winner of the Rome Prize, a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the Stan Brakhage Award, as well as participating in two Whitney Biennials, (1989 and 1997) Child has had numerous retrospectives worldwide. These include Buena Vista Center in San Francisco, Anthology Film Archive (in conjunction with The New Museum, NY), Harvard Cinematheque, Reservoir, Switzerland, EXIS Korea, the Cinoteca in Rome and Image Forum in Tokyo. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art NY, the Whitney Museum, Centre Pompidou, Museo Reina Sofia, and in numerous international film festivals, including New York, Rotterdam, Locarno and London. Harvard University Cinematheque has created an Abigail Child Collection dedicated to preserving and exhibiting her film work.
Child is also the author of six books of poetry (A Motive for Mayhem, Scatter Matrix and Mouth To Mouth among them) and a book of critical writings: THIS IS CALLED MOVING: A Critical Poetics of Film from University of Alabama Press (2005). As a professor at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1999-2016), Child has been instrumental in building an interdisciplinary media/film program; her work and practice have inspired a generation of younger artists.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My cultural influences include Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Philip K. Dick stories and automata such as the fortune-telling humanoid that was present in amusement arcades at the Jersey Shore when I was growing up. Equally so, the cartoons I watched with obsessive affection. The result: an abiding interest in artificial construction, how it is created and how our society will use/or enslave it.

The last feature in my Trilogy of female desire, the project is conceived as a critical and comic investigation into the imaging of the machine-woman. Examining our mythic and cultural history—from Metropolis to Coppelia, Westworld to Ex Machina—the female is both feared and adored, powerless and powerful. Popular art-works imagine Android as toy, tool, ghoul, product, invention, servant, worker, model, companion—not insignificantly paralleling how culture has largely defined women. ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES reveals the contemporary dance between metal and flesh, as humans become more mechanical (bio replacements, dependence on computers/phones) while robots, those human mirrors, aim for consciousness.

I initiated the Trilogy with the shooting of UNBOUND: Scenes from the Life of Mary Shelley while on a Rome Prize Fellowship in 2009-10. Mary, then a teenager, writes Frankenstein, navigating our fears about the power of science and the aspiration to create life in our image: the subtitle of her book is The Modern Prometheus. Her critique of our human genius comes full circle as I now examine the 21st century science of robotics. Shelley’s warnings and fears are particularly applicable to our era as human endeavors seem increasingly destructive, threatening our “mother” planet with our industry, ambition and inability to curb our appetite for growth. The metaphors have become real. This film is the first of its kind to get as close to these issues in a thoughtful, discursive and humorous modality.