Two Refugees Digitally Disguise Themselves In This Haunting Sci-Fi Short

How far would you go to survive?
Image: Dust (YouTube)

The era of humanity is over, and the only way to survive is to completely lose everything that makes you, well, you. Dust’s short film “How To Be Human” puts a sci-fi bent on a familiar tragedy—where refugees, immigrants, and other disenfranchised people are forced to hide their identities to survive.

“How To Be Human” stars Sophie Kennedy Clark and Louise Salter as Adelphe and Kimi, two sisters living in squalor after artificial intelligence surpassed humanity and made us all obsolete. To keep themselves alive, the sisters embark on a dangerous crossing to Cold City, one of the only remaining cities on Earth—but Cold City doesn’t admit humans, only fellow AI. Adelphe has to train Kimi how to lose her humanity so they can get into the city...at any cost.

In a statement, filmmaker Bruno Centofanti said he wanted his short film to “dissolve the refugee stigma” and show the horrors of having to hide one’s true self in order to survive. He said he was inspired by the story of his grandmother, who he later discovered was a Jewish immigrant who had kept her ancestry secret to safeguard against persecution.

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“Being the grandson of a Jewish immigrant who buried her past in order to survive and only discovering my own roots later in life, the idea of telling the story of a young girl who needs to hide her identity in order to survive feels personal, powerful and inspiring to me,” he wrote.

Salter also narrates an audio description version of the short film for people who are blind or visually impaired. I was really happy to see this, and would love more short films to follow this example. I would absolutely recommend watching this version too. Given how “How To Be Human” is mostly devoid of dialogue, the audio description version gave a lot of insight into Kimi’s internal monologue, which I appreciated.


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Beth Elderkin

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.