A revealing peek behind the curtain of the ever-growing online uprising
DIRECTED BY BRIAN KNAPPENBERGER (USA, Rise Against)
Tuesday, May 1, 6:15 p.m.
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor Street West)
Thursday, May 3, 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, 7 p.m.
TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
As this film makes clear, the “hacktivist” collective Anonymous grew so organically from the internet that its creation was all but inevitable. A few of the group’s former operatives agreed to be appear on camera and they, along with some intellectuals and cultural commentators, detail how the seeds were initially sown at 4chan, an imageboard website where amusing memes were fervently passed around and a specific community of like-minded web users was born. Things progressed from there, with early efforts in banding together including the use of a large group of similarly attired avatars in early teen versions of Second Life–style sites to create swastika formations and block access to a virtual pool. Before long, a movement had been launched and the group found themselves tackling bigger targets like the Church Of Scientology and an oppressive Libyan government.
A documentary on this topic lives or dies by the level of insight and access on display, and the results here are candid if not earth-shattering. Specifics of some hacking methods are intriguing, like the story of one indicted operative and his successful efforts to crash a website using a program that essentially reloads a web page over and over again. And while the focus is mostly on the power that millions of people around the world can wield when joining together for worthy causes, the film does not sidestep a discussion of the inherent difficulties in an uprising without any leadership or unified voice.