Review: Ieva (2021)

Courtesy of Lithuanian Shorts

The choice of the title Ieva for a Lithuanian short film about a (female) robot prototype cannot be accidental: Ieva is Eve in Lithuanian. Fortunately, this is the only Biblical reference in otherwise quite a “scientific”, cold and precise short film by the directing duo consisting of Vytautas Plukas and Domas Petronis. Ieva deals with how a machine gets to know the world around it.

First thing we see and hear is noise, both auditive and visual. Once it goes quiet, the camera zeroes in on a face and upper part of the torso of a woman. She is conservatively dressed (imagine a school teacher from some decades ago) and perfectly calm. The setting looks like a hospital and she like somebody who waits for someone close to her to wake up. When the camera moves away from her face and onto a hand, quite robotic, tasked with trying to pick up different objects through a hole, we realize that our quiet lady is actually a robot. Later on she is tasked to observe and try to interact with the dogs of different sizes, breeds and personalities to little success. In the end, she is transported out of her “native” lab to a new “home” in a shop window from where she continues observing the world.

Working from Plukas’ austere, but precise script, Vytautas and Petronis are looking for an answer to the eternal science fiction gerne question: can androids gain experiences and forge their own identity and personality? The answer is too complicated to be spelled out in a single film regardless of its runtime. The good thing the directing duo does in Ieva is creating a cold, unpleasant atmosphere of a laboratory, making the viewers feel for the machine that, theoretically, cannot feel. The coldness and the rigidity, also reflected in the way the film was shot – by a camera from a fixed position, is broken only in the scene of Ieva’s transportation, which seems natural, dark and dirty, almost warm and analogue, before getting back to Ieva sitting in the window.

Ieva sees the noise. We see Ieva captured in one way or another. Is it life?

Country: Lithuania
Language: Lithuanian
Runtime: 14′
Year: 2021
Directed by: Vytautas Plukas, Domas Petronis
Written by: Vytautas Plukas
Cinematography by: Vytautas Plukas
Editing by: Vytautas Plukas
Music by: Agné Matulevičiuté
Sound by: Iveta Macevičiuté
Production design by: Sigita Jonaityté
Stylist: Ruta Sakalauskaité
Computer graphics by: Vytautas Kazlauskas
Colourist: Vytautas Plukas
Produced by: Domas Petronis, Vytautas Plukas, Dagné Vildžiunaité
Production company: Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro akademija (LMTA)