For all our coverage of SXSW Film 2017, click here.
What a great South By Southwest it was. There were some truly incredible premieres, some mild disappointments, and a truly excellent television pilot shown at this year’s festival. Here’s almost everything else I saw there this year (we’ll have some reviews of the SXSW films showing at the Boston Underground Film Festival coming later this week), excepting the one movie I walked out of, A Critically Endangered Species, whose first 30 minutes had experienced a combo of pretentious and boring that I didn’t exactly find palatable.
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Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web
One of the highlights of the documentary program this year, Caught in the Web tells the story of the legendary internet huckster/pioneer/sleazebag who founded Megaupload.com. That site, one of the forbearers of now-ubiquitous cloud technology and early target for anti-piracy interests, was seized by the Justice Department back in 2012. That, in a way, began Dotcom’s downfall, his life brought to ruin by the machinations of Hollywood, the FBI, and the New Zealand government.
It’s a captivating tale told very well by director Annie Goldson, who had unparalleled access to Dotcom and those closest to him over a number of years, and it’s constructed almost like a spy thriller, effective and brutal in its pace and editing. Goldson’s able to condense a lot of complicated information effectively and intelligently, and provides empathy and insight into a figure who, up until this point, has often seemed aloof and odd. He’s a surprisingly compelling protagonist, unlike a lot of his contemporaries, who has a warm heart and seems to not realize how sketchy some of his shit comes across throughout the picture. Even with all that, it’s hard to justify the government’s hard-on for prosecuting him for the actions of his users, especially given that the tech has almost become ubiquitous.