The film Coded Bias follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini through her investigation of algorithmic discrimination after she accidentally discovers that facial recognition technologies do not detect darker-skinned faces. Joy is joined on screen by experts in the field, researchers, activists, and involuntary victims of algorithmic injustice. Coded Bias was released on Netflix April 5, 2021, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and has been called “‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for Big Tech algorithms” by Fast Company magazine. We talk to director Shalini Kantayya about the impetus for the film and how to tackle the threats these challenges pose to civil rights while working towards more humane technology for all.
Filmmaker Shalini Kantayya’s Coded Bias premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. Coded Bias anticipates a national broadcast on Emmy-award winning series Independent Lens in Spring 2021. The film won a SIMA Award for Best Director and has been nominated for a Critics’ Choice, a Cinema Eye Honors, and NAACP Image Award, among others. Shalini’s debut feature, Catching the Sun, premiered at the LA Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary. She directed the season finale of the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, Executive Produced by Ron Howard, broadcast globally in June 2017. She has also directed for NOVA and YouTube Originals. Shalini is a TED Fellow, a William J. Fulbright Scholar, and an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.