Interactive documentary {The And} Game comes to Aspen Shortsfest opening night | AspenTimes.com

Interactive documentary {The And} Game comes to Aspen Shortsfest opening night

"{The And} Marcela & Rock" will screen Thursday at Aspen Shortsfest. The short film offers an example of how {The And} Game works.
Courtesy photo |

The title of the interactive documentary film experience {The And} Game refers to the connection between two people — “him and her,” “mother and son” and so on.

The inventive game, which comes to the Wheeler Opera House for Aspen Shortsfest’s opening night Tuesday, brings in audience members as participants. Pairs of people will ask each other questions — often revealing ones — in a live, immersive and very unique “choose your own adventure” live documentary. It aims to explore the dynamics of human relationships of all stripes.

“It’s an experience,” director Nathan Phillips said. “And the experience requires couples, questions and an audience. And everybody has to be honest. In terms of tools, that’s all you need.”

The couples may be married, friends, new acquaintances, romantic partners or family members — {The And} Game works uniquely for unique relationships. Phillips and co-creator Topaz Adizes have staged the interactive experience in European cities, in Miami, in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Last month, {The And} Game won the Best Interactive Documentary prize from World Press Photo. It’s different every time, shaped by the personalities in the crowd and the spirit of the place that’s hosting it.

“There’s a structure and a method to it, but it’s also unique to every individual and to every group that does it,” Adizes said.

Along with the live experiences, the members of a creative collective called The Skin Deep have developed {The And} Game as an interactive website (which has drawn upward of 4.5 million views from 140 countries) and made a short film, “{The And} Marcela & Rock,” that offers an example of how the game works. In the film, which screens Thursday at Shortsfest, a husband and wife are filmed in triptych as they ask each other questions such as, “What do you love about our relationship?” and “What do you wish had never been a part of our experience” and “Am I the best sex you’ve ever had?”

Their filmed conversation goes in some unexpected directions that reveal quite a lot in 13 minutes about the couple’s past and about the nature of devotion, intimacy and love.

Answering some tough questions and talking about topics people often avoid can cause friction, Adizes and Phillips said, but always lead to new levels of understanding. Bringing those in the crowd into the intimate space between two people in itself makes them participants and leads to a sort of radical empathy, they said, helping people understand different relationships with different parameters.

“You may be polyamorous, you may be abstinent because of your religion, you might be high school seniors about to break up, you might be old people that are going to die together, but there are things that you feel about love and relationships that are common among all of us,” Phillips said.

By design, tension is part of the show.

“Where there’s conflict and things that we shy away from, if we use communication to explore it, we actually find more intimacy,” Adizes said.

To that, with a laugh, he added a hard sell for the Shortsfest event: “Single people or couples, everybody is getting laid Tuesday night!”

atravers@aspentimes.com


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