The Internet’s Own Boy
The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz’s groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing, combined with his aggressive approach to information access, that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron’s story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.
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In the ‘80s, an eccentric billionaire decided he was going to try and create the world’s smartest children. Robert Graham was convinced that the biggest problem facing mankind today was that intelligent people weren’t having enough kids, and unintelligent people were having too many kids; so, he decided to create the first Nobel Prize sperm bank. Nobel Prize winners would donate sperm, and he would give the genius sperm, for free, to women who qualified for Mensa and had superior IQs. He was ridiculed in the media because of his eugenic beliefs and white-only policy, and often compared to Hitler and Nazi Germany. Nonetheless, 200 kids were born.
Genius Factory is a biography on the eccentric billionaire Robert Graham, tells the story of the 19 years that the sperm bank was in operation and the controversy surrounding it, and interviews three of the more interesting kids, who are now in their early 30s, to find out if the experiment worked.
When you post something on the web, can you be sure it stays there? Enter a hidden shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the internet rids itself of what it doesn’t like. Who is controlling what we see… and what we think?
The Cleaners unveils a giant shadow industry of digital censorship in Manila, the world’s largest outsourcing location for content moderation. There tens of thousands of people working in 10-hour shifts on behalf of large Silicon Valley companies to delete incriminating photos and videos from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more. Complex decisions about censorship or visibility of content are thus outsourced to the “content moderators.” The criteria and guidelines they use are one of the best-kept secrets of Silicon Valley.
The cruelty and the continuous burden of this traumatic work changes the perception and personality of the content moderators. But that’s not all. They are forbidden to talk about their experiences.
In addition to the stories of five content moderators, the film tells of the global impact of online censorship and shows how fake news and hate are spread and amplified through social networks. The utopian vision of a networked global internet community is finally becoming a nightmare when high-ranking former social-network workers provide insights into the mechanisms of the platforms. Through targeted amplification and duplication of all kinds of emotions, the platforms become dangerous accelerators, fueling social and political conflicts and driving the threat of division of our society. (Translation by Google Translate, lightly edited)
STEP chronicles the senior year of a girls’ high-school step dance team against the background of inner-city Baltimore. These young women find a unity through their team that pushes them to challenge themselves on and off the stage. Empowered by their teachers, teammates, counselors, coaches, and families, they chase their ultimate dreams: to win a step championship and to be accepted into college.
This all-female school is reshaping the futures of its students’ lives by making it their goal to have every member of their senior class accepted to and graduate from college, many of whom will be the first in their family to do so. Emotionally inspiring, STEP embodies the true meaning of sisterhood through a story of courageous young women worth cheering for.
An intimate, behind-the-scenes view of the initial dot-com mania, Startup.com follows the adventures of childhood friends Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman as they create govWorks.com, an award-winning website that lets citizens interact with their local governments.
Within a year, the two young entrepreneurs raise 60 million dollars, hire hundreds of employees, and rub shoulders with President Clinton. As the stock market tests the strength of their business, they wrestle with growing pains, tackle technical difficulties, charter the unpredictable venture capital waters, and outsmart copycat competition. But in the end, none of these challenges prepares Kaleil and Tom for their own conflict over the management of govworks.com, a conflict that will not only endanger their company and their jobs, but also irrevocably endanger their lifelong friendship. Startup.com is a classic story about friendship and values at the dawn of the Internet Age.
Startup.com premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.
Sniffing Out Cancer [Work-in-progress]
The filmmakers’ mission for this DOGumentary is to create awareness, to generate more research, and to one day see a simple, non-invasive, accurate, affordable cancer screening process in effect all over the world: “We need more doctors aware of this. We need more trainers and dogs to get this out to the public.”
Sister Wife [Short]
Documentary filmmaker Jill Orschel, whose work has been showcased at film festivals worldwide, immerses herself in her subjects, taking the time to develop relationships built on trust and authenticity, resulting in an intimate style full of heart. Her award-winning short documentaries offer complex portraits of women struggling to discover their roles in challenging environments.
Jill earned an MFA in Film Studies at the University of Utah while raising two sons. For over 18 years, she photographed the Sundance Institute’s prestigious summer lab programs, during which time her passion for independent documentary filmmaking was ignited.
As founder of an annual local filmmakers showcase in Park City, now in its 13th year, Jill continues to mentor and collaborate with other Utah filmmakers. Her film Sister Wife, which premiered in competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and won honors at SXSW, was a product of unprecedented access to a woman living within a secretive polygamous sect. Jill is currently in post-production on her character-driven feature-length documentary Snowland, about an individual from that same religious group who turns to art to overcome adversity. Jill is deeply committed to the evolving craft of documentary filmmaking, and she hopes her work will help make the world a more beautiful and tolerant place.
Second Sight (Short)
Nestled in the rice fields of the Philippines, a blind mother and her family face the life-inhibiting consequences of cataracts until a doctor visits the village and gives the gift of sight in under five minutes.
Second Sight is a short cinematic docu-drama about Joanaly Laniohan, a blind mother of four, and her journey to regain her sight. Emotional, cinematic, and rooted in character, Second Sight is a love letter of hope to the world – a marriage of one family’s journey of overcoming blindness and the people selfless enough to make their dreams come true.
Return of the River
A documentary infused with hope, Return of the River explores an unlikely victory for environmental justice and restoration. The film follows a group of tribal members and activists who attempt the impossible: to change the public opinion of a town, and eventually the nation, to bring two dams down. Ultimately, a deeply divided community comes to consensus, launching the largest dam removal in the planet’s history. The film offers inspiration amid grim environmental news, showing how an idea moved from “crazy” to celebrated reality.
Reviewed as “hell-raising documentary filmmaking at its best,” Return of the River has screened in 25 film festivals and been recognized with over a dozen awards, including the Gold Jury Prize at the Social Justice Film Festival, Best International Documentary at the Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival, and Best Writing in Science Media 2016.
She set out to save a species … us.
When Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962, the book became a phenomenon. A passionate and eloquent warning about the long-term dangers of pesticides, it unleashed an extraordinary national debate and was greeted by vigorous attacks from the chemical industry. But it would also inspire President John F. Kennedy to launch the first-ever investigation into the public-health effects of pesticides – an investigation that would eventually result in new laws governing the regulation of these deadly agents.
Featuring the voice of Mary-Louise Parker as the influential writer and scientist, Rachel Carson is an intimate portrait of the woman whose groundbreaking books revolutionized our relationship to the natural world. Drawn from Carson’s own writings, letters, and recent scholarship, this film illuminates both the public and private life of the woman who launched the modern environmental movement and revolutionized how we understand our relationship with the natural world.