In her exceptionally thought-provoking documentary Users, which also plays like a striking visual essay, Mexican American filmmaker Natalia Almada wants viewers to think about how technology impacts their lives.
Almada, who won a Directing Award at Sundance earlier this week for Users, is not here to point fingers at anyone. She’s not here to ask how many hours of TV a child is allowed to watch during the week or whether a cell phone gets more face time than a spouse.
Almada doesn’t hate technology. In fact, without it, she couldn’t have made this movie. She also doesn’t rely on tech. She just hopes a film like Users might make people aware of their relationship to technology and “how it shapes your fundamental way of being”–for better or worse.
“We’ve been able to imagine and build amazing things with technology like the car and the highway system, but those things have also changed our notion of space and time and distance and how many memories we create in the back seat as a kid,” Almada told Remezcla during an interview this week. “It’s not just a car.”
There’s no rule that says technology can’t be both “amazing and frightening” at the same time. It does carry unintended consequences. In that sense, when Almada uses tech herself, she feels like she’s always reflecting on her choices and how they will affect other aspects of her life or someone else’s.
“It’s not just about whether you’re going to use technology or if you’re going to be a Luddite,” Almada said. “I wanted to create a space where you could think about those things. It’s not about telling you that you should love it or hate it. I just want people to think about how deeply something can change who they are—something that might seem insignificant.”