USA/THAILAND | 2019
PG13: Some Mature Content
Thai with English subtitles
Directed by Pailin Wedel
*There will be a post-screening discussion with the film director at the end of the Premiere
**After the Premiere, the film continues to be available for online viewing until 13 September 2020, 11:59pm.
A two-year-old girl from Bangkok — nicknamed “Einz” — became the youngest person in the world to undergo cryo-preservation. After her death from brain cancer, her family stores her remains in an American lab. Her head and brain now rest inside a tank in Arizona.
Hope Frozen follows the family who made this unorthodox decision. Einz’s father, a laser scientist, yearns to give her the opportunity to experience a rebirth inside a regenerated body. He instills this dream inside his son, a 15-year-old whiz kid named Matrix, who wants to play a part to revive his little sister. But what the boy later discovers will rattle the family’s radical hope in science.
Pailin Wedel is a Thai-American journalist and filmmaker who grew up in Asia. She founded 2050 Productions in 2017. She works on documentaries that focus themes of faith, trauma and the clash between the East and the West.
Hope Frozen is her first feature-length documentary film. Aside from her television work with channels such as Al Jazeera English and Bloomberg, she also films pieces for The New York Times, National Geographic and Monocle.
Prior to creating 2050 Productions, she was the Asia Interactive producer for the Associated Press, where she directed online interactive coverage for the region.
Cryonics is premised on a grand hope: that science will advance until, someday, frozen brains can be “woken up” inside new, probably synthetic housing.
In Thailand, this futurist belief captures the imagination of a Buddhist laser scientist. His daughter, Einz, is dying from cancer. So he decides to store her frozen brain in an American lab. The 2-year-old girl becomes the youngest human ever to be cryo-preserved.
This is a highly personal tale mired in sticky ethical questions. Many outsiders view the father’s choice as bizarre. Fellow Buddhists worry the girl’s soul is trapped in a freezing tube.
The film allows me to scrutinise this unorthodox family with empathy. At a glance, they are quite cerebral and, to many, a bit odd. But they see this foray into cryonics as an act of drastic hope. Faced with the ultimate tragedy — a child’s death — the family boldly turns to technology and reckons with their Buddhist faith.
Futurist thinking may emanate from Silicon Valley. But these beliefs, which place tremendous faith in technology, are spreading to other parts of the planet.
I want the film to offer an unflinching look at a family struggling with unique spiritual complexities. How do you mourn a child’s death when you believe her spirit could be revived in the future? What is the limit of a parent’s duty to their child? What is life? What is death?
What is love?