If art is perhaps the most subtle and powerful manifestation of the depths of the human soul, what else can be called art in a world of dehumanization? Or in a world where AI becomes a substitute for humanity itself? Without providing a definitive answer, ‘INGOLSTADT‘ is a short film that initiates such inquiries, subtly questioning the validity of the concept of “art” in the dawn of a post-human age. Adopting the premises of sci-fi on a conceptual level only and remaining within the perimeter of a drama, directors Sohail ‘SliK’ Qureshi, Solomon Smith, and Joell Westwood sign an ideationally provocative project that evokes one of the most insidious impending catastrophes: the definitive removal of human sensibility. Such an approach is more than necessary in a present where technology tends to dethrone human craftsmanship in terms of performance or yield. Yet, the conclusion the short film is heading for seems to be drawn from a Philip K. Dick’s dystopia, in which it is almost impossible to distinguish persons from androids or other “wonders” of technological progress.


By opting for a minimalist script and direction, in the sense that the story is more like a teaser with no psychological implications or deeper narrative insights, the creators of the short film nevertheless give the project a solid and powerful anatomy. In short, we are presented with a philosophical dilemma that takes the form of an eerily familiar social universe. In this sense, the project highlights a quite popular apocalyptic scenario in speculative fiction literature, aiming to expose the fragility of the individual at the height of a hyper-technological age where human-machine symbiosis can degenerate into disaster. What will be left of humanity when art is stolen by machines, and how far are we from that moment? This is the crux that Sohail ‘SliK’ Qureshi, Solomon Smith, and Joell Westwood touch on in a clever and exquisitely directed short film. ‘INGOLSTADT’ is not a verdict-giving short film, nor does it revolutionize the big questions that the prophets of speculative literature have been anticipating for decades. Still, it is an intense experience that leaves behind a bitter aftertaste, as only truly profound films can.


For the topicality and “urgency” of the philosophical dilemma it illustrates in a clear and incisive style, ‘INGOLSTADT’ was awarded the 2nd Film of the Month distinction in the December 2023 edition of TMFF.