Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost: Catfish. 2010

I first came across Schulman and Joost’s ‘Catfish‘ a couple of years back, and on revisiting it, I was certainly in a position to appreciate it more. So, what does one have here? A title vaguely hinting at aquatic life of some sort, thrown in with a reluctant, cajoled into participation protagonist, and a Thomson and Thompson constantly urging the unrolling of events in a manner that is worthy of a documentary film. Not quite. Yaniv Schulman, a young Manhattan based photographer, becomes the subject of the cinéma vérité instincts of brother Ariel and friend Henry. What unfolds over the course of film time, and also real time of 8-9 months of the making of it, are concerns of common interest in debates around early 21st century usage of personal and social interactive media. Identity, deception, impersonation and orchestration in the ambit of social engineering on the one hand and loneliness, isolation, pain, love, longing, broken dreams, and friendship in the ambit of the human emotional spectrum, ‘Catfish’ indeed, resonates with a sincerity that is essential to the spirit of cinéma vérité. Like all of the better cinematic achievements of recent times, the film is much about the search for truth. The truth is out there? Maybe not. Watch.


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