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

That 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 participating in pornography. Without her consent, Taylor has been exposed to revenge porn that turned her into a “star” on sites like Pornhub and 4Chan. And she isn’t alone. As the documentary unfurls, Taylor soon discovers that one of her best friends from freshman year and many other acquaintances at her university have also been “deepfaked” into porn by the same individual. And one of the most startling statistics in the doc is that while newspapers mostly speculate about how deepfake technology will be used to misrepresent politicians in the future, currently 90 percent of all deepfake content on the internet is non-consensual pornography targeting women. That number will only grow as the tech becomes more readily available (there are apparently online tutorials for how to do it by stalking a person’s IG account).

This is an eye-opening, despairing splash of water at how emerging tech has generated just one more way for women to be harassed and abused, and sometimes in a process that is currently permissible by law. Taylor, by the by, is not the name of the real woman who was targeted. However, what is striking about Another Body is that neither she nor most of the other women who are interviewed show their real faces. The same deepfake tech that was used to make their lives hell is also used to disguise their features from the troglodytes of the web. Their countenances and names have been changed, but their truth remains unmoved. It’s a first in documentary filmmaking, as far as I’m aware, and it acts as yet another example of how powerful this tech can become, especially when weaponized. – David Crow

Glenn Howerton in Den of Geek Studio for BlackBerry at SXSW


I’m old enough to remember using a BlackBerry once or twice at an internship, but not quite so old to have ever owned one. And for folks a few years younger, the device might as well belong to the neolithic past; a relic from the dark ages before the iPhone. That fact is the secret of BlackBerry’s appeal. As the latest feature effort from Matt Johnson (The Dirties, Operation Avalanche), BlackBerry is an introspective consideration on the business and creative instincts that built a device which briefly changed the world—and was then relegated to the dustbin of history barely a decade later.

It is another cold, myopic view of the emerging tech business in the 21st century, but unlike, say, The Social Network, this isn’t about a monster reshaping the world; it’s the story of a few very shortsighted humans who let that power slip away. The film stars Jay Baruchel (good) as awkward tech wunderkind Mike Lazaridis and Glenn Howerton (great) as Jim Balsillie, the type-A boardroom conqueror who essentially bullies his way into becoming Lazaridis’ co-CEO in 1996. Despite an unpleasant working relationship, their dynamic pays off handsomely when they release the world’s first smartphone. It’s fortune and glory in the palm of your hand. At least until Apple enters the chat 11 years later.

An often restrained and understated drama, BlackBerry avoids the period piece kitsch that most movies about the recent past fetishize, instead relying on the timelessness of a conflict where incongruent wills can sometimes create fleeting greatness. With an often shaky, handheld and faux-documentarian eye, Johnson lets the characters’ successes and failures speak for themselves in a movie where the price of doing business remains elusive. – DC

Cast of Bottoms at Den of Geek Studio in SXSW


In a genre defined by pent-up emotional stresses and triggers, Bottoms lands devastating blows of laughter by being blunt and unafraid to smile through the absurdities of adolescent life—even if that means revealing broken teeth and blood dribbling down the chin along the way. The brainchild of both Seligman and her frequent leading lady Rachel Sennott, Bottoms sees the Shiva Baby pair reunite, now as co-screenwriters and co-conspirators. Together, they plot a subversive attack on coming of age yarns, even as they’ve made a probable cult classic in the form; it’s certainly one of the most original with the setup being about two queer girls who think their best shot at dating cheerleaders is to punch them in the face.

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