A new research paper on Cornell’s ArXiv website reveals a side of Kristen Stewart we haven’t seen before. She’s one of the paper’s three co-authors, along with Adobe research engineer Bhautik Joshi and producer David Shapiro. The paper, called “Bringing Impressionism to Life with Neural Style Transfer in Come Swim” explores the use of artificial intelligence to create a particular visual effect.
Stewart is best known as an actress, but she makes her directorial debut with Come Swim, a 17-minute short that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last night. The film, which Stewart also wrote, is described in the research paper as “a poetic, impressionistic portrait of a heartbroken man underwater.” Back in August, she explained to the New York Times’ T Magazine, “It’s basically about that moment when you wake up and you get dressed and you realize, ‘I’m not sad anymore. I’m not saturated anymore. I’ve been dropped back into everyone else’s reality and now I can live again.’”
Stewart wanted certain scenes in Come Swim to have the same artistic feel as a painting she’d made of a man emerging from sleep, which in turn was inspired by one of her poems. The paper describes how her production team used neural networks, which are computers designed to mimic the human brain, to achieve a similar visual style.
Since the film is so short, it will probably only be shown theatrically as part of film festivals. It may eventually be available online, but in the meantime, you can see the teaser trailer here: