Computer Chess

Writer / director Andrew Bujalski breaks free from his mumblecore roots with Computer Chess, a film that is very hard to describe of even classify. It is a period piece--that much is certain--set in the 1980s during a tournament where various computer-programing teams meet up every year to have their systems play chess against each other. Shot with a vintage, vacuum tube video camera, the movie has the look of a found footage picture, while its observation style and comical yet true to life characters give it the feel of a mockumentary. Yet neither of these labels is quite correct. Bujalski’s odd experiment is more of a clever sci-fi movie, set in the recent past as opposed to the distant future. Computer Chess more than holds your attention and draws you into the nerdy world of technology geeks during a very primitive time in the development of artificial intelligence and the digital world we now inhabit. The pitch perfect cast is comprised entirely of non-actors who, I believe, are primarily programmers themselves. The script is largely improvised around a loose narrative structure, and Bujalski finds many funny and truthful moments in his characters’ interactions with each other, and the other human beings holed up in the hotel where the convention takes place. Noted Boston film writer and critic and Gerald Peary plays the leader of the tournament, in an unexpectedly canny performance.

Directed by Andrew Bujalski
Produced by Houston King and Alex Lipschultz

Written by Andrew Bujalski

With: Kriss Schludermann, Tom Fletcher, Wiley Wiggins, Patrick Riester, Kevin Bewersdorf, Gene Williams, Jim Lewis, Freddy Martinez, Cole Noppenberg, Myles Paige, and Gerald Peary

Cinematography: Matthias Grunsky
Editing: Andrew Bujalski

Runtime: 92 min
Release Date: 07 November 2013
Aspect Ratio: 1.33 : 1
Black and White