Shalini Kantayya

Shalini Kantayya

“Coded Bias” is the first event presented by BOONE DOCS, the newly launched year-round film series at the App Theatre. The new series will feature documentary films aimed at sparking community conversation by presenting an independent lens to view our world. Showcasing emerging and award-winning filmmakers and distinct perspectives from across the globe, BOONE DOCS celebrates the creative power of independent film.

When an MIT researcher discovered that most facial recognition systems are less accurate with the faces of women and people of color, it brought to the forefront the issue of bias in the technology that increasingly runs our society. Described by Variety as a “thought-provoking wake-up call,” “Coded Bias,” a documentary film on the issue, will be presented in a special online screening by the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20, and will be followed by an online taped discussion with the film’s director, Shalini Kantayya.

Artificial Intelligence technology is becoming more prevalent in areas that can profoundly impact people’s lives, such as law enforcement and human resources. The film focuses on the work of three female mathematicians and data scientists — Joy Buolamwini, Deborah Raji and Timnit Gebru, who research the implications of racial and gender bias in the cutting-edge technologies of AI.

“As sci-fi writers have inspired the imagination of AI developers, “Coded Bias” draws from science-fiction’s stylistic elements to visualize concepts in this new era of big data,” said Kantayya, the film’s director. “Coded Bias” aims to inspire communities to spark new conversations about bias in the algorithms that impact civil liberties and democracy.”

This event is made possible through the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, a South Arts program. Since its inception in 1975, Southern Circuit has brought some of best independent filmmakers and their films from around the country to communities throughout the South. The program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020-21 Southern Circuit season features a hybrid model of in-person and online screenings to prioritize the health and flexibility of Screening Partner venues and filmmakers.

Coded Bias is offered free to High Country audiences through the support of the theatre’s board of trustees. To subscribe to the theatre’s e-list and receive a link to view this event at no cost, visit the theatre’s website at

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