Computer Chess – the movie

by ChessBase
1/21/2013 – In 1980 there was a famous computer chess world championship in Linz, Austria. Thirty years later the American film director Andrew Bujalski has made a film on the subject and captured the atmosphere of the pioneering days of AI with eerily realistic shots. "This film is intelligent to its core, testing its limitations with brave camera work and meta-narrative," writes one reviewer. Take a look.

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Computer Chess – the movie

Set over the course of a weekend tournament for chess software programmers some thirty years ago, "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.

Andrew Bujalski talks about his film, premiering at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival

Andrew Bujalski has written and directed the films "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. Between duties to his own projects, Andrew has also worked as a screenwriter-for-hire and a teacher of film production at Boston University and the University of Texas. The Boston Globe describes him as "unerringly polite and somewhat disheveled."

Andrew Bujalski pitching his new film, "Computer Chess" to a Hollywood executive

Shot from the movie Computer Chess – looking eerily real and from the 80s

The Russian TSAR (original: CAISSA) team playing a game

Click to watch video animations (with commentary) of eight different historical
computer chess games and six different "Hot Old Personal Computers"

Movie review in Screen Cave

This film by writer/director Andrew Bujalski took me by surprise. I was expecting a relatively straight-forward reflection on a fictional, but realistic, 1980s computer science competition to develop a chess program that can beat a chess master. I was shocked and delighted to discover that Computer Chess is much more like a mockumentary, in the tradition of Best in Show, with a strange, sci-fi element reminiscent of Primer. This film is intelligent to its core, testing its limitations with brave camera work and a Lynch-worthy meta-narrative. Full review here.

Sundance screenings of Computer Chess

January 19, 12:00 P.M. Holiday Village Cinema 2 Park City, UT
January 21, 5:30 P.M. Library Center Theatre Park City, UT
January 22, 9:30 P.M. Redstone Cinema 1 Park City, UT
January 23, 9:00 P.M. Tower Theatre Salt Lake City, UT
January 25, 2:30 P.M. Prospector Square Theatre Park City, UT

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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