IMDb > Conceiving Ada (1997)

Conceiving Ada (1997) More at IMDbPro »

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Conceiving Ada -- Emmy Coer, a computer genius, devises a method of communicating with the past by tapping into undying information waves...


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Release Date:
19 February 1999 (USA) See more »
Emmy Coer, a computer genius, devises a method of communicating with the past by tapping into undying information waves... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
(5 articles)
Ken Loach project wins top PttP prize
 (From ScreenDaily. 10 October 2014, 2:00 AM, PDT)

!War At Sundance
 (From 29 December 2010, 6:00 PM, PST)

Sci-Fi Feminist tale 'Conceiving Ada' finally out on DVD
 (From Planet Fury. 5 August 2010, 4:32 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Leisurely-paced journal of a woman computer enthusiast "weaving" computer magic -- capturing historical moments in "real" time See more (22 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Tilda Swinton ... Ada Augusta Byron King, Countess of Lovelace

Francesca Faridany ... Emmy Coer
Timothy Leary ... Sims

Karen Black ... Lady Byron / Mother Coer
John O'Keefe ... Charles Babbage
John Perry Barlow ... John Crosse
J.D. Wolfe ... Nicholas Clayton
Owen Murphy ... William Lovelace
David Brooks ... Children's Tutor (David)
Esther Mulligan ... Mary Shelley
Ellen Sebastian ... Dr. Fury
Mark Capri ... Dr. Locock
Joe Wemple ... Priest / Talk Show Host
Chris von Sneidern ... Musician In Elevator
David Eppel ... Simon
R.U. Sirius ... Barlow
Kashka Peck ... Teenage Ada
Rose Lockwood ... Child Ada / Claire
Jesse Talman Boss ... Baby Ada
Lillian L. Malmberg ... Anne Isabelle Byron
Cyrus Mare ... Ralph Byron

Michael Oosterom ... Lord Byron
Pollyanna Jacobs ... Cocktail Server
Roger Shaw ... Voice of Priest
Bruce Sterling ... CD-ROM Voice

Dave Nelson ... CD-ROM Voice (voice)

Henry S. Rosenthal ... CD-ROM Voice
George Leeson ... CD-ROM Voice / Club Patron
Melissa Howden ... CD-ROM Voice
Josh Rosen ... CD-ROM Voice (voice)

Lynn Hershman-Leeson ... CD-ROM Voice (voice) (as Lynn Hershman Leeson)
Lavay Smith ... Club Band: Lead Singer
Bing Nathan ... Club Band: Upright Bass
Chris Siebert ... Club Band: Piano
Bill Stewart ... Club Band: Alto Sax
Rosemary Astromsky ... Club Patron
Brooke Baggett ... Club Patron
Lori Baker ... Club Patron
Stack Buss ... Club Patron
Ellen Sebastian Chang ... Club Patron
Ethan Hay ... Club Patron
Geoffrey Herreman ... Club Patron
Seanne-Marie Jacobsen ... Club Patron
Michelle Kopecky ... Club Patron
Sharon Leong ... Club Patron
Jafer Louahdi ... Club Patron
Kenneth Lorber ... Club Patron
Melissa Margolis ... Club Patron
Phillip Ristaino ... Club Patron
Kit Robberson ... Club Patron
Dawn Robinson ... Club Patron
Jackie D. Stewart ... Club Patron
Lena Strayhorn ... Club Patron
Greg Thomas ... Club Patron
Tabitha Warren ... Club Patron
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Pinion ... (uncredited)

Directed by
Lynn Hershman-Leeson 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson 
Eileen Jones 
Sadie Plant  CD-ROM Women, Weaving and Cybernetics
Betty A. Toole  biography Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers, A Selection Letters of Lord Byron's Daughter and Her Description of the First Computer

Produced by
Lynn Hershman-Leeson .... producer
Henry S. Rosenthal .... producer
Original Music by
The Residents 
Cinematography by
Hiro Narita 
Bill Zarchy (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Robert Dalva 
Production Design by
Lynn Hershman-Leeson 
Art Direction by
Laura F. Haynes 
Makeup Department
Gretchen Davis .... makeup artist
Marine Macerot .... hair stylist
Marine Macerot .... makeup artist
Gretchen West .... makeup assistant
Production Management
Debbie Brubaker .... unit production manager
Kevin O'Lone .... computer graphics production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Sue Marcoux .... second assistant director
Eden Wurmfeld .... first assistant director
Art Department
David Bjorngaard .... art department
Nathalie Diericks .... assistant art director
Andrea Terry .... art department production assistant
Sound Department
Tom Bruchs .... consultant: Dolby surround
Inze Byl .... boom operator
Christopher Forrest .... dialogue editor
Kim Foscato .... dialogue editor
Paul Gainakos .... boom operator
Louis Hohenstein .... sound effects editor
Jennifer Myers .... foley artist
Dave Nelson .... foley recordist (as David Nelson)
Dave Nelson .... sound designer (as David Nelson)
Dave Nelson .... sound re-recording mixer (as David Nelson)
Dave Nelson .... supervising sound editor (as David Nelson)
Josh Rosen .... sound designer
Kerry Rosen .... dialogue editor
Tone Sanchez .... production sound
Andy Smitzer .... dialogue editor
Daniel Sperry .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Keith Terry .... foley artist
Visual Effects by
Jamie Clay .... computer graphics artist
Jamie Clay .... digital video effects supervisor
Jamie Clay .... modeler: mechincal bird
Walter Grey .... computer graphics artist
Walter Grey .... modeler: mechincal bird
Lynn Hershman-Leeson .... composite editing supervisor (as Lynn Hershman Leeson)
Scott Johnson .... computer graphics artist
Scott Johnson .... modeler: mechanical bird
Jonah Loop .... computer graphics artist
Jonah Loop .... digital effects artist
Karl Raade .... digital artist
Jim Rolin .... compositor: ultimatte
Laurel Roth .... computer graphics artist
Laurel Roth .... modeler: mechincal bird
Ed Rudolph .... on-line digital effects editor
Jarrod Sartain .... digital photgrapher
Carter Tomassi .... title opticals
Camera and Electrical Department
Kathleen Beeler .... camera operator: second unit
David B. Brubaker .... video playback operator
Isaac Camner .... gaffer
Jesse Drew .... camera operator: second unit
Mark Garrett .... virtual set photographer
Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir .... camera operator: second unit
Mia Lor Houlberg .... camera operator: second unit
Mia Lor Houlberg .... first assistant camera: video
Gregor Keller .... best boy electric
Alan Kelley .... first assistant camera: film
Matthew Kenney .... second electrician
David Shippy .... key grip
Anjali Sundaram .... second assistant camera
Skip Sweeney .... camera operator: second unit
Animation Department
Robin Berman .... animator: main titles
Clarity .... animator: main titles
Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir .... animator: Godsdog animation
Helen Plotkin .... animator: Godsdog animation
Keith Sands .... animator: main titles
David Schwartz .... animator: main titles
Anna Wagner .... animator: Godsdog animation
Mark Wallenberg .... animator: Godsdog animation
Mark White .... animator: Godsdog animation
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Lea Ditson .... costume designer: Ada's cape and velvet dresses
Terrance Graven .... costume consultant
Pollyanna Jacobs .... costume assistant (as Pollyanna M. Jacobs)
Mirka Morales .... costumer
Editorial Department
Joe Bini .... assistant editor: avid
David Cerf .... additional on-line editor
Angela Chou .... negative cutter
Lynn Hershman-Leeson .... off-line editor (as Lynn Hershman Leeson)
Stephen R. Sheridan .... color timer
Chryss Terry .... assistant editor
Music Department
Jake Tornatzky .... music editor
Other crew
Rosemary Astromsky .... production assistant
Robin Berman .... title designer: main titles
David Bjorngaard .... production assistant
Peter Buchanan .... legal consultant
Tom Bullock .... 35 mm post-production wrangler
Clarity .... title designer: main titles
Alfred Equitz .... legal consultant
Mark Garrett .... virtual set realisator
Kim Gonzales .... craft service
Susan A. Grode .... legal consultant (as Susan Grode)
Lynn Hershman-Leeson .... virtual set constructor (as Lynn Hershman Leeson)
Mia Lor Houlberg .... documentation
Jyoti Jalali .... assistant: Mr. Rosenthal
Suki Jones .... production assistant
Ivan Kraljevic .... production assistant
Paul Lederman .... production assistant
Meredith MacArthur .... production assistant
Cat McGrath .... production assistant
William Murray .... production coordinator
Paula Nederman .... assistant: Tilda Swinton
Paula Nederman .... production assistant
Jakob Nielsen .... title typography
Keith Sands .... title designer: main titles
Jarrod Sartain .... virtual set realisator
David Schwartz .... title designer: main titles
Luis Sola .... title treatment
Chryss Terry .... script supervisor
November Wanderin .... theatrical release promotion assistant
B. Ruby Rich .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Clone of Ada" - Japan (English title)
See more »
85 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

A director's statement in the film's production notes says that the film was "structured around the idea of a double helix". "Every scene," the notes say, "was structured and shot using a DNA image as a model for actors' placement and camera movement."See more »
Doctor:The uterus is completely destroyed. All that mathematics was too much for your body.See more »
Movie Connections:
References Demon Seed (1977)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful.
Leisurely-paced journal of a woman computer enthusiast "weaving" computer magic -- capturing historical moments in "real" time, 14 March 1999
Author: Ruby Liang (ruby_fff) from sf, usa

Sounds like an oxymoron right there. Contradictory as it may seem, it's literally that: Travels back in time, capturing a moment in history in "real" time -- "Mo-memory" captured and SAVE'd. Computer enthusiasts, come ye one and all -- this includes computer graphic artists, programming experts. Mind you, leisurely-paced is truly so -- nothing's really hurried. If you want action -- it's very much simply intellectual intercourse. It's not Hollywood intrigue -- it's mind game -- not tour de force like "Brainstorm" -- yes, L-E-I-S-U-R-E-L-Y-paced -- nothing really hits you over the head.

It's intriguing -- but NFE (Not For Everyone). Some might think it's too slow or seemingly just chatters and undramatic -- 'less you're a computer literate, -enthusiast, ever-fascinated by Tilda Swinton (no matter how long or short her appearance is), or simply love a film however it may be delivered. See it with an open mind (Empty your cache before you go).

There are nuances of little indications: a computer-minded person could very well be, at times, lacking in "real" emotions and feelings -- the human touches. E.g., Ada Byron King (Tilda Swinton) said to the main character Emmy, "Can you save me?" and Emmy (Francesca Faridany) said, "yes" and hit SAVE. Or, to take this further, one might see it as a comparison of then and now: what may seem difficult and impossible for a woman to break through barriers to be recognized (as the mathematical genius that Ada was) then, is fairly easy and accessible now, as Emmy hits a key and it's done -- she will be recognized for what she has researched, programmed and discovered!

Ah, there's some insights into the life of a computer couple -- some diet suggestions: they're presented as a certain COLOR day of the week, e.g., bananas are included on Yellow day, then there's BLUE day menu, WHITE day entree. (Are you curious?)

Written and directed by Lynn Hershmann-Leeson, it does feel like a story told from a woman's perspective. Definitely showed the "obsessive" pursuit of what the main character (perhaps autobiographical?) is after in her participation and wanting to succeed in this M.I.T. "ALIVE project".

You may say this is a love story -- love in different angles juxtaposed on the computer grids. There's also a dog of an interest called Charlene. Its ultimate gist of the whole event could be summed up in what Ada said -- that we should not be hung up in what she, the past, thinks and tried to immortalize her memory -- we need to move beyond and be in touch with the present and feel ALIVE and continue to discover things…

When Emmy was talking with her mentor (Timothy Leary portrays) who appeared on the wall size screen, it brought to mind Dennis Potter's "Cold Lazarus" -- a stylish scientific tale with also an advance techno challenge theme of capturing a specific person's memory and "SAVE" -- keeping the memory ALIVE and recallable. The specific person is namely Albert Finney's character in the prequel "KARAOKE". If you enjoy Albert Finney and relish Dennis Potter's amazing storytelling, you must not miss "KARAOKE" nor "Cold Lazarus".

This film also reminds me of Douglas R. Hofstadter's books -- 1) "Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of the Mind and Pattern (An Interlocked Collection of Literary, Scientific, and Artistic Studies)", and 2) his Pulitzer Prize winner "Godel, Escher, Bach: An eternal Golden Braid (A Metaphorical Fugue on Minds and Machines in the Spirit of Lewis Carroll)". There's also 3) Rudy Rucker's "The Fourth dimension -- A Guided Tour of the Higher Universes". All three are worthwhile books -- fun and intrigue -- if you're so like-mindedly disposed.

A caveat: If you're tired -- unless you're a computer "nerd" -- you probably don't want to view this movie yet, as the seemingly flat tone and leisurely pace until Tilda appears may not pick you up. If you're curious and patient, and you love the idea of what computers can do, go for it, this can be enjoyable and insightful for you.

Other Tilda Swinton gems that has more of her: "Orlando" 1992 written and directed by Sally Potter, and "Female Perversions" 1996 written and directed by Susan Streitfeld, both for mature audiences.

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