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The Institute 2013

NR CC
3.6 out of 5 stars (22) IMDb 6.2/10

Welcome to the Jejune Institute, a mind-bending San Francisco phenomenon where 10,000 people became "inducted" without ever quite realizing what they'd signed up for.

Starring:
Arye Bender, Boston Blake
Runtime:
1 hour, 30 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Science Fiction, Mystery, Documentary
Director Spencer McCall
Starring Arye Bender, Boston Blake
Supporting actors Jeff Hull, Chelsea London Lloyd, Gordon Mclachlan, Daniel Shoup
Studio Gravitas Ventures
MPAA rating NR (Not Rated)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Amazon Video
I find this film very stimulating. I have seen it twice, on the big screen, at film festivals. I do sympathize with the reviewers who didn't "get it". I was lucky enough to stumble upon the live-action alternative reality game (level 1 of I think 5) before it closed and so this film makes complete sense to me. It resonates with my own experience of the game, and it shows me the progression of the rest of the "reality" that I never got to experience. And it embodies the spirit of mystery and discovery that were a central part of the game experience. It IS, in fact, a documentary, about something that really happened but was not quite real. To say much more would introduce spoilers. If you are looking for a slick Ken Burns experience that makes you swell with national pride, skip this. If you are the type that would enter a strange office building on a hunch and willingly follow a set of instructions given by a disembodied stranger, just to "see what happens", then there's a chance this film will tickle your mind.
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Format: Amazon Video
This is one of the better documentaries I've seen: it was intriguing, fascinating and fun. When I think about it more, it's really a beautiful expression that I'm glad to have witnessed through this film.

The Institute interviews the players and the makers of a live-action game in SF in 2008 that was designed as a complex scavenger hunt through the city, with incrementally unravellng mysteries surrounding a missing teen Eva Lucien, an influential art-punk prankster urbanite. The documentary explores the game, the mechanics, the players and their reactions to the game; as well as the origins and the meaning of the game, which some take to be a complex elegy for a missing girl, elevated by her genius, forlorn father into a modern mythology that is both a beckoning story and wonderful art.

Like I said before, I am glad I watched this.
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Format: Amazon Video
'The Institute' is a strange little trip down a rabbit hole into a world where the standard urban landscape can be something a little more magical, a little more exciting. It drops the viewer into the world of a San Francisco interactive storytelling experience and gives the viewer the same sense of strangeness and uncertainty about reality that its participants received. It's fun, it's exciting, and if you've ever wanted to think about new ways to see the world and to experience storytelling in the world.... well. As an artist, I've never been inspired by something quite like the work of Nonchalance.

It's not a film that's going to fit in with the standard expectation for a documentary. There's plenty of storytelling, plenty of blurring the line between reality and fantasy, but that's part of the point. If you're willing to jump in and roll with it, if you're a dark horse with the spirit to look up and see, you can have one heck of a good time with this film.
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Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
The film documents an immersive art experience that took place in San Francisco around 2005. It starts with a bunch of flyers posted around town, urging people to call a phone number to participate. Those that did were directed to a high rise in the downtown financial district, where they found themselves alone in a room with a tv monitor to watch their orientation, then instructions on how to leave the building covertly. That begins an intricate game that inductees participated in for several years, a game blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. The documentary itself never really comes clean about what was real and what wasn't but the really interesting thing was how it affected the participants. I think back to my adventurous youth and I wonder if I would have had to courage to participate and follow through, as so many did. I don't think so, and it's kind of a shame because those that did were changed by the experience in a good way. The other thing that amazed me was the amount of detail that the producers created over the course of the project. Interesting film.
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Format: Amazon Video
Those lucky enough to experience a piece of the Jejune Institute while it was running in San Francisco will find this film charming and endlessly labyrinthine: the rabbit hole goes down, down, down, and the lines between fiction and reality are extremely blurred. If you managed to play the game while it was happening, this film will illuminate pieces you missed, and give you a semi-non-fictional peek behind the curtain of how the story was brought to life.

For those of you who did not experience the game: tread lightly, and with a heavy dollop of suspension of disbelief. This is not a typical documentary, and what you need to know is that much of what transpires in the film pokes fun at the boundaries between the real and unreal. It traces the history of the game, the player reactions to the game, and never quite commits to what the "truth" might be.

This may make it difficult to follow, or all the more enjoyable, depending on where you stand. Think of it as a litmus test for your personal comfort level with uncertainty.

For people hearing about the Jejune Institute for the first time through this film, my advice is to allow yourself to get caught up in the excitement, and to not try too hard to figure out which parts may be fictional. The fun is in letting yourself believe.
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