Computer Chess is a remarkable film about a computer vs. computer chess tournament in 1980. It has begun its theatrical run on July 17th, after it has screened at prestigious film festivals such as Sundance, SXSW and Berlin. The reviews have been very positive.
"Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers circa 1980, Computer Chess transports viewers to a nostalgic moment when the contest between technology and the human spirit seemed a little more up for grabs. We get to know the eccentric geniuses possessed of the vision to teach a metal box to defeat man, literally, at his own game, laying the groundwork for artificial intelligence as we know it and will come to know it in the future."
This is the synopsis from the official press kit that's given at the Computer Chess movie's website.
The film has been directed by Andrew Bujalski, who did Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation and Beeswax, all of which have appeared on New York Times critics' "Top Ten of the Year" lists. Funny Ha Ha was also identified by A.O. Scott as one of the Ten Most Influential Films of the '00s.
Computer Chess has opened last Wednesday, July 17th at the New York Film Forum and is now playing all over the USA.
The reviews have been great so far:
"An endearingly nutty, proudly analog tribute to the ultra-nerdy innovators of yesteryear, this quasi-mockumentary is easy to admire in spirit even when its haphazard construction practically defines hit-or-miss." - Justin Chang, Variety
"sneakily brilliant. (...) the superficially distant reality of “Computer Chess” is recognizably our own. The personalities of the programmers are refreshingly idiosyncratic, playing against easy stereotypes. There is a fine line between genius and fraud, and between inspiration and error." - A.O. Scott, New York Times
"a funny, low-key look at nerd culture circa 1980" - Hugh Hart, Wired
"Computer Chess could be a new Doctor Strangelove. Hilarious and brilliant." - Nathan Renaud, Accréds
"brilliant. (...) this is about as perfect a rendering of the era as you could ask for – to the extent you would genuinely not be surprised should this turn out to have been footage dug up from some time capsule buried in 1981." - Andrew Pulver, The Guardian
"Funny and poignant, it’s also a witty satire on technology and how today’s cutting-edge will be tomorrow’s quaint kitsch." - Mark Olsen, LA Times
Computer Chess was filmed on black and white Sony AVC-3260 video cameras from 1968. The New York Times had a separate piece on that. And don't miss CLO's interview with the film's producer Alex Lipschultz and chess consultant Peter Kappler.