(FANTASIA 2020) FILM REVIEW: DOPPELBANGER is an interesting vignette on the value of human interaction set in the world of sex work.


Writer/director Sofian Khan’s black and white stylized short serves up a potential future where the gig economy leads to people using their robotic clones as sex workers and the consequences that entail.

If the year 2020 has taught human beings anything in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s the intrinsic value and need for human interaction. We’re social creatures and it’s very difficult for us as social beings to be deprived and isolated of human touch and interaction for a prolonged period of time. Sofian Khan’s short DOPPELBANGER, premiering on Dust on September 8th, places us in a stylized futurescape where interaction between humans has become increasingly rare due to the rise of robotic surrogates, “doppel synths,” machines that are exact robotic duplicates of their originals who work on behalf of their originals in industries where humans can no longer keep up with machines. Owning one is expensive, so many have taken to modding their doppel synths to do side gigs like sex work to make ends meet. At the start of the short, we meet George (Gibson Frazier), who has engaged a doppel synth named Pria 2 for sex work when the robot breaks down. George has to contact the synth’s original Pria (Annapurna Sriram) to pick up her clone and possibly repair her. Meanwhile, George’s synth, George 2, arrives home from work and seems unduly concerned with what George is doing and if there might be something odd going on.

The most interesting part of the short is the interaction between George and Pria. One of the progressive aspects of the short is that it treats sex work as a valid profession in the modern era of the gig economy where it isn’t unusual for a waitress, artist, or anyone to have an OnlyFans account to supplement their income. It isn’t presented as something inherently seedy or shameful. During their escorting Pria’s synth out of George’s apartment, the two strike up a bond over how their respective careers have been impacted by the changes in technology making it difficult to make a living. But, both have commonalities and relish that if not for this unforeseen circumstance, they may not have met. It’s an intriguing meet-cute that seems very relatable in the age of Tinder and Match. The short ends with George having to make a choice to preserve the possibility of a chance he has with Pria or continue the status quo and its a rich bit of storytelling for a 15 minute short.

Khan’s short has a very Black Mirror feel with excellent dual performances by Frazier and Sriram. It says something about the difficulty in meeting people and how technology makes our lives difficult at times through it ubiquitousness. Check out Doppelbanger, it is worth a watch and says a lot about where the world is today.