Circuit Arts is holding two work-in-progress screenings next week of Heartworm, a sci-fi drama film directed by Miriam Louise Arens and filmed on the Island.

The screenings take place August 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, followed by discussions with the creative team.

Ms. Arens grew up on the Vineyard, known then as Maya Ditchfield, and created the film with her husband, cinematographer and editor Mitchell Arens.

The story follows a set of parents grieving the loss of their daughter, Ms. Arens said. As the father immerses himself deeper in a virtual world known as NeuraLife, his wife embarks on a relentless fight to save him from the technology that took their daughter’s life.

The pair came up with the concept six years ago, Ms. Arens said, adding that the themes are becoming more topical as people become increasingly reliant on technology and as the U.S. Surgeon General declared the country to be experiencing a loneliness epidemic.

“We had a miscarriage, and it sort of spiked the question of how do we grieve in a world when it’s stripped of authentic human connection?” she said.

Heartworm is in post-production and still needs color grading and sound design. The screening will be the film’s first time in front of an audience and will give the creators an opportunity to gather community input.

“Those are the elements that are missing,” Ms. Arens said. “So right now, it’s key to get feedback, and we’re still fundraising.”

The film was shot on the Island in late 2021 and had support from many Island organizations, Ms. Arens said. It focuses on reconnecting with reality and nature, making the Island the perfect place for the first screenings, she added.

“I think it is a good place to be like, how do you feel right now while you’re breathing in this clean air?” she said.

Ms. Arens hopes Heartworm helps people examine the way they interact with technology in an increasingly digital world.

“I think it’s important for us to start looking at that part of our existence and questioning how much of it we are in control of and how much of it is in control of us,” she said.

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