Please put away all cellphones at the start of this screening.
The greeter at the door handed me a sealable phone pouch as I entered Chef Dance on Main Street for the Sundance premiere of Olivia Wilde’s short film, WAKE UP. What at first seemed a bit odd to be putting my phone on lockdown, I can now say that after watching WAKE UP our society could use a serious digital detox. Presented by HP and in association with The Lab at Anonymous Content, WAKE UP is a story about a woman (Margaret Qualley) forced to rediscover herself in an increasingly digital world.
**Film Synopsis / Spoilers Ahead**
At the start of the film, we see a frantic Margaret Qualley in a hospital unsure of how she got there. Frustrated, Qualley approaches hospital staff members and doctors but is ignored because everyone is on their phones. Realizing that no one is paying attention, Qualley makes a break for it and runs away from the hospital and into the busy streets of New York City for a real chance of freedom. One would think that if you saw a woman in a hospital gown, shoeless, on the street someone may stop and say something, right? We come to discover that much like the hospital staffers, the city dwellers do not bat an eye or take notice of Qualley because they too are fixated on their phones. Realizing that she can now literally do anything, Qualley dances about the city joyfully relishing being alive. She then reaches The High Line in Chelsea where there is an incessant tapping noise. Qualley discovers a sea of people on their laptops typing away staring blankly on their screens. She approaches one of the girls typing and removes her headphones where we see an actual moment of human connection. In a vivid flashback, Margaret is reliving her world pre-hospital escape where we learn she was crossing the street and got hit by a car when she was on her phone. The film leads us to believe that perhaps this incident could have been avoided if she had been more “disconnected.”
What is most impressive about the film is that there is minimal dialogue so that the overall message could be easily interpreted all over the world. Not only is this film timely, but serves as our own “Wake Up” call.
“When we were making this film I thought, how are we going to get all of these background actors to pretend to be sucked into their phones? Then I realized when we were filming everyone did it so naturally, it was kind of scary! Like this is real life” said Wilde.
You can watch WAKE UP on the Garage by HP: hp.com/wakeup