SXSW 2023 Film and TV Round Up: Recapping the Best of the Fest

This is the story of a college student named Taylor who discovers during her senior year that her face has been digitally copied onto the bodies of other women who participate in pornography. Without her consent, Taylor was exposed to revenge porn that made her a “star” on sites like Pornhub and 4Chan. And she is not alone. As the documentary unfolds, Taylor soon discovers that one of her best friends from freshman year and many other acquaintances from her university were also “deepfaked” in pornography by the same individual. And one of the document’s most startling statistics is that while newspapers mostly speculate about how deepfake technology will be used to misrepresent politicians in the future, currently 90% of all deepfake content on the internet is non-consensual pornography aimed at women. That number will only increase as the technology becomes more readily available (apparently there are tutorials online on how to do this by stalking a person’s IG account).

This is a desperate and telling splash of water as emerging technology has spawned just one more way for women to be harassed and abused, and sometimes in a process that is currently permitted by law. Taylor, by the way, is not the name of the real woman who was targeted. However, what stands out another body is that neither she nor most of the other women interviewed show their real faces. The same deepfake technology that was used to make their lives hell is also used to disguise their characteristics as web troglodytes. Their countenances and names have been changed, but their truth remains unchanged. It’s a first for documentary filmmaking, as far as I’m aware, and acts as yet another example of how powerful this technology can become, especially when weaponized. -David Crow


I’m old enough to remember using a BlackBerry once or twice at an internship, but not old enough to own one. And for people a few years younger, the device may well belong to the Neolithic past; a relic from the dark ages before the iPhone. This fact is the secret of Blackberryappeal of. Like Matt Johnson’s latest effort (the dirty ones, Operation Avalanche), Blackberry is an introspective look at the entrepreneurial and creative instincts that built a device that briefly changed the world – and was then relegated to the dustbin of history just a decade later.

It’s another cold and myopic view of the emerging technology business in the 21st century, but unlike, say, The social network, this is not a monster reshaping the world; is the story of some very short-sighted humans who let that power slip away. The film stars Jay Baruchel (good) as clumsy tech wunderkind Mike Lazaridis and Glenn Howerton (great) as Jim Balsillie, the Type-A boardroom conqueror who essentially forces his way into becoming co-CEO of Lazaridis in 1996. Despite an unpleasant working relationship, their dynamic pays off a lot when they release the world’s first smartphone. It’s fortune and glory in the palm of your hand. At least until Apple joined the conversation 11 years later.

A drama often restrained and understated, Blackberry it avoids the period kitsch that most films about the recent past fetishize, instead relying on the timelessness of a conflict where incongruous wills can sometimes create fleeting greatness. With an often-wobbly, portable, faux-documentary eye, Johnson lets the characters’ successes and failures speak for themselves in a film where the price of doing business remains elusive. – CC

Cast of Bottoms at the Den of Geek Studio at SXSW

lower parts

In a genre defined by tensions and repressed emotional triggers, lower parts gets heartbreaking laughs by being frank and unafraid to smile through the absurdities of teenage life – even if it means revealing broken teeth and blood running down her chin along the way. The brainchild of both Seligman and his frequent protagonist Rachel Sennott, lower parts see the baby Shiva duo are reunited, now as co-writers and co-conspirators. Together, they plot a subversive attack on coming-of-age stories, even if they’ve made a likely cult classic in form; is certainly one of the most original, with the setup being about two queer girls who think their best chance of dating cheerleaders is to punch them in the face.

SXSW 2023 Film and TV Round Up: Recapping the Best of the Fest

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