Film & TV

Spanish Film Festival: Artificial Justice

In the near-future, Spain wants to replace judges with an AI program developed by a private corporation.

Intelligent, gripping, and intriguing.

AI is already being used to some extent to aid in the administration of justice. For example, data bases are being developed that provide statistics on the chances of reoffending. Counterintuitively, they are often found to be fairer than human judges in making certain decisions.

Director Simón Casal along with his co-screenwriter Victoriano Sierra Ferreiro, has taken this idea and extrapolated it into the near future. A Spanish company has developed an AI program called THENTE which can do the work of human judges. Spain is about to go to a referendum to embed the use of THENTE in the constitution. Highly respected judge Carmen Costa is unsure about the technology, and is renowned for overriding its recommendations. She is asked to audit the new version of the program, before its pre-referendum launch. Just before she begins her work, the head of THENTE and original developer of the program is killed in a suspicious car accident.

Although Artificial Justice revolves around a partly-imagined technology, including self-driving cars, it is not really science-fiction. It is far too grounded in reality. Along with the fascinating and important themes it explores, it contains a narrative of mystery, with a suspicious death, and some murky characters. Unfortunately the mystery is not really deep or twisty enough to completely satisfy as a thriller. However, the film is saved by its meticulous detail and deconstruction of issues such as: what information is the algorithm being fed? Is this just an attempt to get rid of an independent judiciary? Can ethical considerations be fed into an algorithm and if so, who decides what they are?

The wonderful Verónica Echegui stars as Carmen, alongside Alberto Ammann, Afonso Pimentel, and Lúcia Moniz (who many will recognize as Aurelia from Love Actually). Art direction by Curru Garabal and graphic design by Ferran Navarro-Beltrán give a visual intelligence to the narrative.

Despite its slight identity-crisis, Artificial Justice is a splendidly watchable and intriguing movie, which will keep you thinking long after the final credits.

Artificial Justice screens as part of the HSBC Spanish Film Festival until July 10th at Palace Nova cinema.

For screening times, and to book tickets, click here.

For further information, click here.

More News

To Top