It’s the year 2037, and Americans are living in different realities, thanks to mobile devices that encourage them to be immersed in their own memories, emotions, and points of view.
In a small town bitterly divided over who belongs, a recent immigrant puts herself at risk when she shares her private, digitized memories with strangers, challenging the status quo in the hope that empathy will triumph over fear. Created for Antonín Dvorák’s beautiful music, performed by the Dover Quartet, “the young American string quartet of the moment,” (The New Yorker), American Quartet is a five-time-award-winning short film from director Jesca Prudencio.
At a time when the United States is increasingly divided along ideological lines, we have become more entrenched in our own narratives and echo chambers. Drawing on our previous films, American Quartet explores how we could use technology to understand and therefore empathize with “the others” in society.
The universal language of Dvořák’s beautiful music drives the film and allows the characters to tell their stories wordlessly. The film invites viewers to experience music as they would experience empathy—with vulnerability to intense pain and exquisite joy. And it calls upon us all to see that vulnerability in those we are convinced are our “enemies.”
This film will do more than just entertain audiences. It will encourage social change through social engagement across ideological lines to find common ground and, hopefully, a way to move forward. The experience will serve as an example of how Americans can stay true to their values without dehumanizing those who they see as opponents.