Many will remember Catfish from this past year’s Melbourne International Film Festival, where it produced a bit of a stir. Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, the somewhat-controversial documentary is finally about to receive a limited release in Melbourne beginning next week.
Billed as “a documentary unlike any you’ve seen before,” Catfish begins as a look at the unique true-life relationship that grows between a New York photographer, a precocious eight-year-old artist from Michigan and her family. Communicating via Facebook, email and text message, the focus takes a very, very, interesting turn when the photographer begins to fall in love with the young artist’s beautiful older sister.
Much has been made of the film’s shocking twist, to the point where the “big surprise” has become the primary focus of the film’s marketing (its press release going so far as to proclaim that “to spoil this movie is unforgivable.”) This is a bit unfortunate. While Catfish is an excellent documentary, my advice to anyone about to see this film is to try and disregard all the hype. It needlessly detracts from what is actually a very moving look at the nature of online social networking and the impact of digitally mediated social interaction on human behaviour and relationships. Go in with that in mind, however, and you won’t be disappointed by this very unique film.
Catfish will be out on limited release from January 26.
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