Film: I Am (Not) A Monster

  • Nelly Ben Hayoun
  • Chloe McClellan

‘To act is to begin something new’ said Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest thinkers of all time who coined the concept of the ‘banality of evil’. 'I am (not) a monster' investigates the act of thinking in the twenty-first century as well as fears associated with it.

An original and unapologetic performance on political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), whose book The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) and essays such as Truth and Politics (1967) are introduced as 'urgently' relevant to our times - with a recent spike of interest in her work, now translated into dozens of languages.
Interviewing Hannah Arendt's former students and key philosophers and activists, 'designer of experiences' and alternative educator Nelly Ben Hayoun takes Hannah Arendt on a world tour in 16 cities; an impossible pursuit through four continents - looking for the origins, mechanics and power dynamics behind knowledge. Trained by Noh theatre and Kabuki experts in Japan, with puppets in hand, Ben Hayoun is questioning the ownership and plurality of our thoughts, and the means by which freedom of learning and innovative educative federations can exist in contemporary times. She is hoping to return from her travels in Japan, Ethiopia, California, Arizona, New York State, United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany with the source of knowledge in her suitcase so that she can share it with her students, down below, in the university she founded, the University of the Underground.

‘The film introduces some of my core beliefs in thinking through experiences, experimental actions and independent education; namely for me:


1) education should be free and we should make our own economic systems to maintain it;
2) education should exist beyond nation states as a transnational entity - independent from governmental politics;
3) schools have to maintain plurality both in their approach but also in leadership.
- Nelly Ben Hayoun

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I am (not) a Monster Credits

Director: Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian
Produced by: Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios Ltd. & I am (not) a Monster Ltd.
Executive Producers:Nelly Ben Hayoun at Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios, Christopher Hird at Dartmouth Films
Director of Photography: Fiona Braillon
Editor: David Potter
Visual Effects: Bob Weisz
Production Managers: Monika Baran,Chloe McClellan

Production Manager (Japan) Marie Otsuka
Soundtracks: RVNG Intl. and Pussy Riot
R&D phase co-produced by Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios Ltd., UK
I am (not) a Monster Ltd. , UK Z33, House for Contemporary Art, Hasselt, Belgium MU, Eindhoven, Netherlands Dartmouth Films, UK Project partners The SETI Institute Hannah Arendt Centre for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College London Premiere presented by BFI Southbank in collaboration with 4:3 Boiler Room
Interviewees for I am (not) a monster include:
Noam Chomsky - Philosopher and Professor of Linguistics, University of Arizona. Nadezhda Andreyevna
Tolokonnikova - Activist, Pussy Riot
Magid Magid - Lord Mayor of Sheffield
Arjun Appadurai - Hannah Arendt’s Student and Professor of Anthropology Efrem Amare - Director of The National Museum of Ethiopia
Neil Harbisson - Cyborg Artist
Tosa Novmichi - Maywa Denki, Nonsense Artist
Hisa Uzawa - Noh Theatre Lead Performer, Japan’s Living, National Treasure
Richard Bernstein - Hannah Arendt’s Student and Professor, The New School
Roger Berkowitz - Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities, Bard College Hiroshi Ishiguro - Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory
Leon Botstein - Hannah Arendt’s Student and President of Bard College
Shishido Hiroyuki - Shinto Priest and Rapper
Brewster Kahle - Director of the Internet Archive
Metasebia Endalamaw - Curator of The National Museum of Ethiopia
Kanjuro Kiritake II - Bunraku Puppetry Master, Japan’s Living National Treasure
Adrienn Almásy - Curator in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, The British Museum Allan McRobie - Professor in Engineering, Cambridge University
Samantha Hill - Assistant Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities Erica - Humanoid Hiroshi Ishiguro - Humanoid
Sarah Steele - VR Program Manager at Google
Zachary Lieberman - Founder of the School for Poetic Computation Takako Furukawa - Hypnotherapist And many more...