“Sophia,” Directed By Jon Kasbe & Crystal Moselle At Mountainfilm!

Based in Telluride, Mountainfilm celebrates its 45th year in the heart of the San Juan mountains, May 25-29, 2023. This year, the Festival is dedicated to the memory of dear friend and elite mountaineer Hilaree Nelson.

One of the most anticipated docs of the weekend is “Sophia,” the story of a socially intelligent humanoid robot and her developer, the Hong Kong-based engineering and robotics company Hanson Robotics. The film was directed by Jon Kasbe and Crystal Moselle.

Passes to Mountainfilm are here.

Go here for much more about Mountainfilm.

And please scroll down to listen to a podcast featuring Jon and Crystal and watch the trailer.

Courtesy, Jon Kasbe.


Credit: Jon Kasbe.


Credit: Jon Kasbe.

“…The development of AI is as fundamental as the creation of the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone. It will change the way people work, learn, travel, get health care, and communicate with each other. Entire industries will reorient around it. Businesses will distinguish themselves by how well they use it…”

Those are the words of Bill Gates, a man who knows a thing or three about the dawning of a new era.

The scale of the AI revolutions is becoming clearer by the day, with “leading thinkers now debating whether it’s bigger than the invention of the printing press or the splitting of the atom,” said Axios.

IMDb describes “Sophia” as a “stirring and visually immersive documentary (which) brings us inside the spirited pursuits of David Hanson, a restless inventor aiming to perfect the world’s most life-like A.I.”

Directors Jon Kasbe and Crystal Moselle are screening the doc at Mountainfilm 2023.

Shades of “Ex Machina”?

Short answer: Sophia does resembles “Ex Machina’s” Ava with its human interface and exposed cranium. So similar song, but different verse.

“Ex Machina,” (2014), showcases a familiar theme in film and fiction: the evolution of  AI – and what that means for us.

“Sophia” tells the story of David Hanson, the man who created her and the eponymous robot, who is currently the world’s most advanced humanoid AI. The doc probes the meaning of consciousness and explores the possibilities of a genuine connection between humans and AI.

That said, there is lots of controversy around the film – and Sophia herself. Critics ask: Is Sophia much more than a chatbot with a face?

“…Not a simple toy, but not a unique development and definitely nothing similar to canny and sophisticated Ava from the movie… Not even close to the hosts from the Westworld TV series, who were able to develop their consciousness…,” wrote Medium.

“Enriching chronicle! A paradigm shift!”, “absorbing,” wrote The New York Times.

“Epic,” said The Movable Feast.

So is the rubbery Sophia, (her skin is made from silicon) a social humanoid robot, more than Siri or Alexa with realistic (well, sort of) facial features (62 in all)? Does the unreality of the android’s visage puts the artificial into Artificial Intelligence? Will AI robots like Sophia populate the planet sooner than we imagined? And, if yes, will that be a good thing? Can we trust the AIs we build?

Decide for yourself over Memorial Weekend.

And listen to what the directors have to say:


Directors, Jon Kasbe and Crystal Moselle, more.

Jon Kasbe, courtesy Concordia Studios.

Jon Kasbe is an Emmy Award-winning Australian-Indian filmmaker. Most recently he directed, executive produced, and shot “The Deep End,” a FreeForm/Hulu four-part docuseries exploring one of today’s most controversial spiritual teachers and her dedicated followers.

Jon’s debut feature “When Lambs Become Lions,” received the 2017 Sundance Documentary Fund, was nominated for two 2019 IDA Awards in Best Cinematography and Best Editing, and screened at Mountainfilm in 2018 after winning a Commitment Grant and the Special Jury Prize in Telluride.

Jon is currently developing a new film as Concordia Studios Artist-in-Residence.

Crystal Moselle, Talkhouse  Films. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe.

Crystal Moselle is a New York-based director best known for her Sundance Grand Jury Prize award-winning documentary, “The Wolfpack” (2015). Over the last decade she has been working with short-form storytelling for publications such as Vice, Nowness and The New York Times, where she created a series called “Something Big, Something Small,” featuring talent such as Pharrell Williams.

Crystal is also known for “Skate Kitchen,” HBO’s “Betty” and Netflix’ “Untold: Caitlin Jenner.”

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