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MIAMI NATIVE FILMMAKER RODNEY ASCHER’S ‘A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX’

Written By Josie Gulliksen
March 29, 2023 at 10:36 PM

Image from A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Magnolia Pictures.

Do we live in a Matrix? There are people that believe we do.

Documentary filmmaker and Miami native Rodney Ascher set out to meet these folks and the result is his latest film “A Glitch in the Matrix” which will have a one-time screening Saturday, April 1 at Cosford Cinema located on the University of Miami’s Coral Gables Campus.

The locals responsible for bringing the film to Cosford are Barron Sherer who worked with Ascher at Alliance Cinema in the 1990s and continues his work in moving image archive and research, and Rene Rodriguez, manager of Bill Cosford Cinema and former film critic at The Miami Herald.

“Barron approached me about screening the film as part of the Knight Arts Challenge Grant he received and I remembered his name from his days at Alliance Cinema. Plus, Barron is very skilled at making an event out of screenings,” said Rodriguez. “He’s one of the city’s great creatives and also very humble and genuine. I immediately agreed and knew Rodney would be a great fit.”

Rodriguez and Sherer had previously collaborated so it all felt very comfortable and familiar and Rodriguez himself recently received his own Knight Grant to expand his work at Cosford Cinema.

“This is mine and Rene’s second collaboration since he has been at the Cosford. The reason I’m able to do these projects is through my Knight Arts Challenge Grant including bringing this film to Miami,” said Sherer.

Both Rodriguez and Sherer are big fans of Ascher’s Award-winning and multi-nominated work which has been featured at the prestigious Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals among others.

Ascher who resides in Los Angeles will be at the screening on April 1 conducting a Q&A following the showing. He explained his documentary filmmaking process like this.

“I think about them for a year or two and then it’s a year of interviews, then they’re wrapped and they premiere. The Glitch one is a simulation theory and the idea for it came to me after I did ‘The Nightmare’ and then a person he talked to about the subject, told me that what he thought he was seeing, the shadowy ghostly figures were the ones creating the Matrix,” said Ascher.

That’s when he began researching the Matrix theory. He discovered Nick Bostrom, a philosopher from Oxford who wrote a paper called “Are you Living in a Simulation?” Bostrom’s paper approaches the theory from a mathematical, logical viewpoint.

“When I discovered this paper I felt this is coming from someone that’s smarter than me so it inspired me,” said Ascher. From there, he found a sub Reddit about The Glitch in the Matrix, a platform where people were discussing inexplicable happenings that were best explained by simulation stories. “I found those stories because they had an emotional charge,” he said.

Once he announced he was making the movie, on a couple of blogs and other places, people started coming forward and answering the query. 100 people came forward, he interviewed 20 of those 100 and then whittled it down to four. He also interviewed several experts.

Photo of Rodney Ascher. Photo credit Joseph Cultice.

“My concept was to interview people who believe that we’re living in the Matrix. There are four of them featured in the movie while the others are color commentators, people who can come at the subject from different directions like technology, philosophy, literature, religion.”

There is a fifth subject Ascher interviewed, someone featured in the second half of the movie, whose story he says “turns into a fairly harrowing true crime story. Believing the world isn’t real can send you to some real dark spaces.”

Rodriguez admires Ascher’s filmmaking skills, particularly when it comes to this type of subject matter. He says “the films are completely accessible and super fun. Rodney finds people that are very eloquent about their beliefs. His movies provide us with a completely different way of engaging with popular films.”

Sherer says “Rodney’s been doing documentaries that get released in the cinemas. This current one ‘A Glitch in the Matrix’ made the film festival circuit but once it got to the point of release to larger theaters it played at a few then COVID kind of put the brakes on that.”

That’s one of the many reasons Ascher is so excited about the Cosford Cinema screening, that it’s being screened with an audience. The one hour and 40 minute filmed is packed with ambitious visual and a big soundtrack,
He’s been working with the same composer, Jonathan Snipes since he made “Room 237” and says “I’m a huge fan of his work. He uses a lot of collage like synthesizers and recorded sounds from the world/nature. Not only is he an amazing composer, he also mixes the music, the sound effects, it’s all coming from the same hands.” Daveed Diggs of “Hamilton” fame and currently in the series “Snowpiercer” provides vocals in the film.

The film’s Animation Director is Syd Garon Ascher’s college buddy from the University of Miami where they worked closely on projects and continued to collaborate in the years after.

Just as hyped for the screening is Rodriguez, a former film critic who interviewed Ascher for his film “Room 237” a documentary about people’s theories about “The Shining” and also reviewed his film “The Nightmare.”

“The hard part about these films is finding people who believe this and then interviewing them in a way that they make their case. What makes his films so good, he treats his subject seriously and they make you wonder,” said Rodriguez, who after watching “Room 237” went back and watched “The Shining” and he says “Rodney’s film will make me go home and watch ‘The Matrix’ again.”

The Cosford Cinema is the perfect venue to welcome home a Miami native filmmaker and Rodriguez and Sherer’s excitement is infectious and sure to translate to the audience.

“Rodney has a skill not every filmmaker has, to take abstract ideas and not only make them relatable but fun to contemplate. Art is what you bring to it,” said Rodriguez.

WHAT: Film screening of Rodney Ascher’s documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix”
WHERE: Cosford Cinema, University of Miami Campus, 5030 Brunson Dr., Memorial Bldg., Ste. 225 Coral Gables
WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday, April 1
COST: Free, click here to RSVP
INFORMATION: 305-285-9838 or cosfordcinema.com

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