Dystopia is perhaps one of the most effective ways to lucidly investigate the present we live in. However, ‘Counterproductive‘ is not only a substantial and incisive analysis of a delicate social context, but also an extremely well-executed short film signed by a bold directorial vision. Eva Tisnikar’s film, which was made as a student project and postgraduate research  along Ravin Raori and Yuqing Liu, is somewhat inspired by some major recent literary works, such as “The Handmaid’s Tale”, while it reveals the principles of a patriarchal society in which hyper-technology becomes a means of augmenting aberrant stereotypes. Gender inequality, discrimination, dehumanization caused by the intrusion of AI into people’s lives are just a few themes that this short film tackles through the story of a young woman for whom social ascension is influenced and supervised by the male gaze.


The narrative, although not extremely complex in terms of action, has enough ideological consistency to launch some relevant debates and points of view. Fleur is a young woman who lives in a quasi-totalitarian patriarchal society where her only friends are some intelligent domestic robots. In such a deceitful “puritanical” world, where abuse and discrimination define a woman’s life, how could Fleur assert her intelligence without sacrificing her emotional and moral integrity? The heavy feeling of abandonment and the permanent imminence of an assault define this nocturnal atmosphere in which the director combines in the subtext not only details similar to Margaret Atwood’s famous novel, but also references to films such as “Her”. At the same time, although the director wants to transform her project into a manifesto against the accelerated dependence of human beings on new and future technologies, the short film is much more complex than that, since it talks not only about a potential threat, but also about a problematic contemporaneity, governed by extreme social ruptures. Everything is riddled with insidious violence, while the professionally executed cinematic material responds more than convincingly to these ethical and aesthetic stakes. Dynamic, incisive and indigestible like a sour prophecy, ‘Counterproductive’ is certainly a project that stands out both for its technical qualities, for the artistic vision of a talented director and students, but also for the timeliness and suggestive force of its discourse.


For its ethical and aesthetic consistency that promises not only a magnetic and intelligent experience, but also a mature directorial vision, ‘Counterproductive’ was awarded with the Film of the Month distinction in the February 2021 edition of TMFF.