SXSW 2023 review: ‘THE ARTIFICE GIRL’ is everything we’ve hoped and feared.


Writer-Director-Editor Franklin Ritch brings his festival hit THE ARTIFICE GIRL and its mesmerizing premise to SXSW 2023 audiences. When an FBI team discovers an advanced AI that entices men online, they team up with its reclusive creator. But as the years pass, technology grows beyond human capabilities, begging questions about morality in ways you won’t see coming.

The first thirty-nine minutes, or chapter one, occur in one room. One single scene sets up the plot. The dialogue is acid-tongued, and the performances are outstanding. The concept of an AI child helping catch predators makes all the sense in the world. It appears to save innumerable lives, but nothing in this world is as straightforward as it seems. What

Admittedly, it took me too long to realize that the second chapter is a jump in time. It is a brilliant visual shift in the narrative and a moment that deserves another watch. It is here our three adult battle one another from a moral standpoint. Amos realizes that Cherry has advanced to the point of “feelings.” He challenges her sensibilities with an assault on Gareth. Everything changes from this moment.

Chapter three features another jump forward, breaking the mold by exiting the unit set and bringing Cherry into the real world. We see her tethered to the wall via power cables but moving about her midcentury home. Now Lance Henriksen takes on the role of now wheelchair-bound Gareth with a calmer, wiser demeanor. This chapter is the most personal and revelatory.

David Girard plays Amos with wide-eyed astonishment and fatherly intuition. Amos’ arc proves complex and integral in Cherry’s development. Girard never fails to astound with the slightest change in facial expression. Sindra Nichols plays Deena with a seemingly hardened demeanor, basically bad cop to Girard’s good cop. Underneath, her motivation reveals the best of intentions. Nichols is captivating.

Ritch plays Gareth, and rightfully so. As the puppet master of this creation in real life, it only seems fair that his extensive knowledge is laid bare for the audience to experience in all its nuance. He hits each beat with intensity and sharpness. With a striking resemblance to a young Sarah Polley, Tatum Matthews plays Cherry with a maturity beyond her age. Ritch’s script allows her to play multiple roles. Most of her performance is delivered directly to the camera because she is an AI. Witnessing her journey is breathtaking.

The script tackles morality, science, privacy, entrapment, children’s rights, autonomy, and unresolved trauma. THE ARTIFICE GIRL would also make a spectacular stage play. The quality of Franklin Ritch’s storytelling is mesmerizing and complex. The possibilities are endless for this story. I am here for whatever comes next.

PS- A perfect ending.

Film Screenings

Mar 11, 2023
Mar 12, 2023
Mar 15, 2023
Mar 15, 2023



Franklin Ritch

Executive Producer:

Peter Kuplowsky


Aaron B. Koontz, Ashleigh Snead


Franklin Ritch


Britt McTammany


Franklin Ritch

Sound Designer:

Jason Strawley, Dave Chmela


Alex Cuervo

Principal Cast:

Tatum Matthews, Sinda Nichols, David Girard, Franklin Ritch, Lance Henriksen

Additional Credits:

Co-Producer: Cameron Burns, Co-Producer: Alex Euting, Line Producer: Jason Blankenship


Arc Entertainment Acquires ‘Garm Wars: The Last Druid’

garmARC Entertainment has acquired US rights to the action-sci-fi thriller GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID.  Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and co-written by Geoffrey Gunn (Siren), the film stars newcomer Melanie St-Pierre (Barney’s Version), Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Lance Henriksen (Aliens).  ARC Entertainment will be releasing the film in-theaters and on VOD on October 2, 2015.  The deal was announced today by ARC Entertainment’s Head of Acquisitions Scott Moesta.

Mamoru Oshii’s creative vision shines brilliantly throughout this film, with remarkable action and special effects from beginning to end,” said Moesta.  “We’re excited to bring this unique story to the big screen for audiences, and especially genre fans to enjoy across the U.S.”

Visionary director Mamoru Oshii is best known for his seminal film Ghost in the Shell, a work famously cited by the Wachowskis as a direct influence behind their iconic film The Matrix. 15 years in the making, GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID is a live action/CGI hybrid about a world on the brink of total collapse. The planet Annwn, inhabited by the Garm, is engaged in perpetual warfare among three tribes.  One Columba fighter pilot, Khara (St-Pierre), embarks on a quest with an unlikely trio: Kumtak tribal elder Wydd (Henriksen), a sacred dog Gula, and one of the last remaining mystical Druids from a long forgotten time. A Briga soldier, Skellig (Durand), accompanies the small band after forging an uneasy truce with Khara. As they struggle across the land in the search for answers to their existence, they encounter raging storms, fierce giants, and mechanical mayhem. They survive these trials only to meet their most difficult challenge yet, a desperate battle against impossible odds for the truth they seek.

Joining forces with his longtime collaborator, composer Kenji Kawai (The Ring), and three-time Oscar Nominated Sound Designer Tom Myers (Up, Toy Story) of Skywalker Sound, Palme D’Or Nominee Mamoru Oshii delivers a feast for the eyes and ears. Lending their VFX artistry is acclaimed Toronto company Intelligent Creatures (“Orphan Black”). GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID is produced by Makoto Asanuma (Gundam Wing), Tetsu Fujimura (Tekken), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Ghost in the Shell, Attack on Titan), and Lyse Lafontaine (On the Road).