Henry-Alex Rubin studied film at Phillips Academy, Andover and Columbia University. The son of a French mother and noted art historian James H. Rubin, he spent his life between Europe and the United States. He is the co-director of the Academy Award nominated documentary MURDERBALL and the recent feature film Disconnect.
Henry-Alex Rubin: Disconnect is three different stories that were pulled right out of the headlines and dramatized and then threaded together, you know, to create an emotional thriller. It’s about the way that technology – all these screens in our lives can bring us closer and then can also keep us farther apart from each other. And the movie’s not just about technology, it’s also about the way in which we communicate with each other. About how people talk to each other. And that was very interesting to me and very important to me to explore the way in which we communicate. And, to me, ultimately the movie’s much more about the power of human communication than about technology. Technology is neither good nor bad. It is a reflection of us, you know.
Technology puts – makes bombs and it can put us on Mars. I’ve met people who are very distractible people who were always on their phones. They were distractible people to begin with. And I’ve met wonderfully calm and wise people who keep their phones in their pockets, and especially during dinner. And those were calm and centered people. So I don’t think technology makes us do anything. I think it’s our personalities that are, you know, expressed through all these devices that we have. And that’s one of the things the film tries to explore.
We’ve never been able to be as close with all these people everywhere in our lives on different continents before as we have now. And that’s very exciting. But when you are connected to thousands of people, it’s hard to find time for the people that you really want to connect with, you know. So that’s just one of the ways in which the duality of technology affects, you know, our attention span. I mean, we’ve never been in the history of mankind connected with so many people. We’ve never been asked to focus on so many different things until this time – right now. Now we are, you know, it is so easy to talk to 200, 300 people in a day. So it’s an exciting time I think for us humans. But with it comes…
That was Samantha’s phone that just went off and gave us a little interlude.
Jonathan Fowler: That was an ironic technological interruption.
Henry-Alex Rubin: It was. But I think it’s really exciting. You know, I love technology. I’m excited that I was alive when the Internet exploded. This is not an anti-technology movie at all but it’s asking questions that I think everyone is asking every day. How much time do you spend on the Internet? Or how much time do you spend on your phone? How much time do you spend connected with those hundred people as opposed to those hundred people, you know. Who do you really give your time and your attention to? These are decisions we have to make now every day whereas, you know, 10, 20 years ago we didn’t have to make those decisions, you know. We just sort of hung out with whoever was in front of us.
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd