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Sci-Fi Spotlight: ZELOS — A.I. and Cloning Gone Wrong

Zelos is the provocative sci-fi short film commissioned by KQED’s Film School Shorts to open its fourth season. Raising questions of artificial life and cloning, Zelos challenges and ultimately satisfies its audience.

Directed by Thoranna SigurdardottirZelos tells the story of Maria (Erica Piccininni), a woman who appears to have a modern storybook life — devoted husband Mordecai (Michael Ornstein), two exuberant children, and a showplace home.

5c60c3_59114930bc7b448dbde281ce5f9dbabfHowever, she is feeling overwhelmed by the demands of her personal and professional life, as well the unspoken competition she is engaged in with Ari (Brooke Nevin), a beautiful colleague.

Desperate, Maria decides to purchase an exact genetic clone of herself to help manage her many responsibilities. She thinks she has found the perfect solution to her problems — until she realizes she has enabled a nearly perfect rival.

5c60c3_9ef22ac8b5994d85a266a02706c4734bLike sci-fi series Humans, Black Mirror and WestworldZelos shines a scathing light on our increasingly fraught relationship with our technology. In our quest to “do and have it all,” we have turned to revolutionary connective technologies such as smartphones, social media, the Internet of Things and A.I. virtual assistants to help us achieve the holy grail of optimum productivity. Despite the promises of greater connection, efficiency and personal freedom made by these technologies, many of us find ourselves ironically feeling more disconnected and over-extended than ever before.

Sci-fi narratives like Zelos are cautionary tales, warning us against the folly of depending on technology alone to foster the connection and complex relationships we need to sustain us.

View Zelos right now on, and don’t forget to share your thoughts on the film in the comments section.

rodfaulknerGuest reviewer Rod T. Faulkner is the founder of, a website dedicated to promoting the best genre web series and short films. He also is the author of 200 Best Online Sci-Fi Short Films, a compilation of exceptional SF&F short films.