Looking Forward


Looking Forward film poster w/laurels

W.H. Auden called the postwar era, “The Age of Anxiety.”  It seems we’re in another one now.  Between climate, politics, war, viruses and technology — we have a lot to fear. 

LOOKING FORWARD is a short essay that considers what it means to live with the dangers and uncertainties of our world. The film explores conflicted emotions about these threats (the ones we notice, the ones we ignore) through the expressionistic prism of AI imagery.

My own life anchors the film. My grandfather fled killings in Ukraine and lived to see his son introduce First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt when she spoke at his high school.  Unexpected, dark turns have punctuated my family’s story.

I found in generative AI a potent vehicle for traversing time and place, and the algorithm itself is from a unique moment in techno evolution.  The use of stills relates to Chris Marker’s sci-fi LA JETÉE, but in this case the science fiction is what’s happening now.

In LOOKING FORWARD, the past and the future are in constant conversation about the present, and what it feels like to be alive today.

By Academy Award nominee Steven Ascher
Produced by Steven Ascher & Jeanne Jordan
Music by Sheldon Mirowitz

12 minutes

DOC NYC official selection laurelsWORLD PREMIERE
Best Experimental Toronto Shorts International Film FestivalBEST EXPERIMENTAL

So wise, so beautiful and so fascinating to take in.  I love this smart and elegant film!  Great filmmaking — and beautifully written, too.  Amid these down days, I feel a little better — and this feeling just might last! Guy Maddin

One of the best shorts of DOC NYC.  A thought-provoking meditation on the future and how we view it. I was entranced by the film and had to watch a second time… since the AI images are dreamlike and burn their way into your brain.  A brilliant look at life.  Steve Kopian, Unseen Films


A new direction for autobiographical nonfiction essay filmmaking. – Ross McElwee

“A very personal compact film that delivers a huge wallop. – Dick Bartlett

It’s a moving, very human response, and efficiently gets to deep emotional places. I mean you took my breath away a number of times, and that was in just enough time for a single reel, I think? There’s an essay in the use of the images alone. Damon Krukowski

Such a personal, innovative, daring approach to one’s inner mind, which few people would share. And during these troubled days, it is pitch perfect to be honest, calm, unafraid, yet unsure.  Deborah Fallows

An exceedingly brilliant and original idea. David Leitner

Beautiful, funny, riveting, fascinating, frightening and astonishingly peaceful and consoling. Sarah Stuart

Feels like a call to action in the form of a poem. Viki Davis

Captures feelings that everyone experiences but isn’t quite able to put into words. It speaks existentially about the profound and the mundane — so much about what my generation is going through! James Dunoyer

What a stunning piece. It required a second and third viewing for all the feeling and ideas that are baked into it. Has so much to offer anyone struggling to make sense of history and a possible future.  Marty Ostrow

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