For those of you who grew up either watching Hannah Barbara’s animated science fiction sitcom, the Jetsons, with Rosie the household robot, or attending the RoboGames in Los Angeles, comes a film festival solely dedicated to, (you guessed it), robots.

In a two-day celebration of all things robotic, featuring approximately a total of 50 short films, the festival kicks off on July 16 in New York City with a special screening of filmmaker Spike Jonze’s short,  I’m Here.

According to Suzan Eraslan, whose company Magic Futurebox is a co-producer of the festival, Heather Knight, the founder, invested in such a unique idea in order to persuade the public that technological advancements in robotics are not to be feared. In fact, Knight stresses that robots can play a constructive and thrilling role in one’s everyday life.

“Heather wanted to put together a festival that celebrated robots and our relationship to them in a positive way—as a social roboticist, Heather is concerned that the pervasiveness of what she calls “Terminator myths” are holding people back from truly integrating robots into our every day social lives,” Eraslan said.

“She doesn’t believe that robots are going to destroy us; they are going to become our friends and companions. And she wanted to put together a festival that features art that emphasizes the social and positive aspects of robot and human interaction.”

According to Eraslan, the festival is both a reflection and exploration of what we already know and what we are constantly discovering – it is an enforcement of our forward thinking. After all, robots are already around us in different shapes and forms; playing a central role in our lives. From vacuums like the Roomba to children’s toys like the beloved robot toy dog, Poo-Chi, robots have become essential participants in our chores, work and play time.

“We’re already bringing robots into our homes and anthropomorphizing them—a lot of people have relationships with their Roomba vacuum cleaners, for example, that resemble pet owner relationships,” she said.

“Heather is interested in pushing that a step further and making socially intelligent robots that can perform and interact with humans as well as human comedians and actors. Her robot, Data, is already playing to audiences not only at conferences but in traditional performance venues, such as Webster Hall in Manhattan and the Bell House in Brooklyn… And he’s really funny.”

Knight’s robot isn’t the only one who has been pushed forward to socially interact with people – a robot named Kiro in Korea has been teaching kindergarten children.

According to, Kiro would screen educational videos and interactive games on his abdomen for three weeks, replacing the role of the teacher.

But the festival isn’t only dedicated in promoting its message; it is there to provide entertainment through film and participatory festivities. Ranging from animated and feature films, the festival has something for everyone.
According to Eraslan, there are even a number of movies with actors playing alongside robots.

“We’ve gotten a wide range of films—there are a few animated films, but by and large they are movies with actual robots or actors playing robots,” she said. “We’ve gotten a good variety of fictional movies as well as demonstration videos of actual robots being developed throughout the world. Also, the low-cost of the submission fee has encouraged a good number of student filmmakers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in a film festival.”

Aside from film screenings, the day of the opening will boast in live performances of both robot and human entertainers. Yet the events do not end there. The following day is full of excitement and exploration with hands-on workshops, a barbecue, and of course, more screenings.

But what is most spectacular is that the festival will also hold a Red Carpet event complete with its very own award ceremony, much like the Oscars, juried by roboticists from Carnegie Mellen University as well as various film directors. They even have their own statuette called the “Botsker” to give away to the lucky few whose films are selected.

“On Saturday night, we will present the Botsker awards to the winning films in a full red carpet ceremony—a play on the Academy Awards,” Erasland said. “We’ll have a red carpet all the way down the hallway of 3LD, our venue, and a team of both human and robot photographers taking pictures of the presenters, film makers, and robot guests. We’ll be live streaming the event for those who can’t attend, as space will be very limited!”

So what does the future bring for this novel film festival?

According to Eraslan, there are already plans of expansion in the near future to places such as Chicago and California. However, though the festival will feature other festivities such as make-your-own-robot-film workshops, which may be compared at times to the RoboGames’ maker events, the heart of the festival lies in the submitted films and their main stars: robots.

“This year is very much the first Robot Film Festival but by no means the last,” Eraslan said. “Heather envisions this as a yearly event that will continue to push positive memes for robot-human interaction, and will encourage and inspire robot makers and filmmakers to work together more often,” she concluded.

For more information related to the festival, you can go to:

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