Squeeze me! Can Computers be Therapists?


Paro was invented as a perfect companion for the lonely single child in central Tokyo housing estates:
a computer toy with smooth, antibacterial fur. But before long the cyber-seal got a second, therapeutical application: a companion for the elderly in nursing homes. In Germany Paro quickly got a name for himself as a controversial therapeutic tool. For some the devil in fur; for others an angel soothing loneliness and other ‘diseases’ of the Western World such as dementia, traumas, autism.

In my cross-media project I want to invite the German web- and TV-audience to explore and discuss the different facets of Paro: friend and healer; toy and teacher; cuddly companion and stupid computer.

A. While journeying online with Paro in the web, they will come to a deeper understanding of the ‘soul’ of this “subject-simulating machine” - and of the Pros and Cons.
B. The 52-min-TV-documentary will include the web-wise gathered opinions
Overall I want to empower my cross-media audience to find their personal answer to crucial social questions like: Might the curative relationship with computer-companions turn into a harmful one under certain circumstances? Is Paro one answer to the problems in a society with aging population and a growing number of dementia-patients?


Author and Director: Annette Wagner
Producer: Saskia Kress, filmtank production
Commissioning Editor: Susanne Mertens
Camera Operator: Matthias Kind
Sound Engineer: Ruth Reeh-Georgi
Editor: Torsten Truscheit
Sound Designer: Nils Kacirek  

Website: squeezeme.de

Facebook: Paro in Bremen

Trailer can be seen on Vimeo