A shot from director David Burke’s documentary, ‘Father of the Cyborgs.’

The quest to unlock the mystery of speech, including how far neurology can ethically be tested without invading patients’ mental privacy, is a powerful driving force in science. The new biographical documentary, ‘Father of the Cyborgs,’ explores that important moral inquiry, as it follows the work of noted neurologist, Dr. Phil Kennedy. The scientist has garnered both praise and criticism for experimenting on his own brain by turning himself into a cyborg, all in the name of research.

‘Father of the Cyborgs’ is having its World Premiere in the Movies Plus section at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The screening will be held tonight, Thursday, June 17 at 5pm ET at the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. The movie is also set to begin streaming tomorrow, Friday, June 18 at 6pm ET on Tribeca At Home.

The technology-driven documentary was written, directed and produced by David Burke. Additional contributors who appear in the movie are Rafael Yuste of the BRAIN Initiative, Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Rajesh Rao of the NSF Center for Neurotechnology.

‘Father of the Cyborgs’ explores how Kennedy’s relentless search for proof that brain-computer interfacing can help improve speech has fueled the emerging debate about whether his approach to neuro-science is the morally right path for doctors to take as they treat their patients. The story also follows Kennedy as he made global headlines in the late 1990’s by connecting the brain of a paralyzed man to a computer. At the time, he was compared to Alexander Graham Bell and became famously known as the title Father of the Cyborgs.

Then in 2014, the neurologist shocked the medical and scientific community, as well as his family, when he traveled to Belize to implant his own brain in an attempt to continue his research. The brazen act nearly incapacitated him for life. Undeterred, the controversial inventor now wonders if the field he pioneered may lead to unintended consequences in a future where technology and human brains seamlessly combine and create class differences as a result of such extreme cognitive advantages.

In honor of ‘The Father of the Cyborgs’ premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, ShockYa is debuting an exclusive clip from the feature. The clip, which summarizes brain implants, chronicles Kennedy as he states that he feels that the chances of suffering from significant brain damage from his experiments is very remote. He also revealed that he didn’t have any levels of anxiety before his own potentially dangerous surgery. In response to his claims, one of his colleagues question why someone with his intelligence would want to interfere with the way his brain works, as he could face significant brain damage.

Also in support of ‘Father of the Cyborgs’ premiere, Burke generously took the time recently to talk about writing, directing and producing the documentary during an exclusive video interview over Zoom during the Tribeca Film Festival. Among other things, the filmmakers discussed why he was inspired to make a documentary that explores Kennedy’s relentless search for proof that brain-computer interfacing can help improve speech, and what his helming approach was like once he started production on the movie. He also mentioned what it means to him that the film is having its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Watch our exclusive video interview with Burke above, and our exclusive clip from ‘Father of the Cyborgs’ below.

Tribeca Film Festival 2021 ShockYa's Exclusive David Burke 'Father of the Cyborgs' Interview
Tribeca Film Festival 2021 ShockYa's Exclusive David Burke 'Father of the Cyborgs' Interview

ShockYa exclusively interviews writer-director-producer David Burke about his documentary, 'Father of the Cyborgs,' during the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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