Over the last few decades, the Internet has grown to an essential communication tool that it became practically impossible to stay away from. Over 500 million tweets are sent in a day, Facebook has almost 940 million daily active users and Google currently processes over 40,000 searches a second! In a world like this, it was inevitable for a unique culture to occur online with its own ethical dilemmas and financial complexities. Documentary filmmakers are one of those who started long ago to think of all of these through in a critical way. We’ve collected 10 of the best documentary movies which explore the world of the Internet and the cyberculture!
- The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014)
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.
- We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (2012)
The Story of the Hacktivists, takes us inside the complex culture and history of Anonymous. The film explores early hacktivist groups like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater and then moves to Anonymous’ own raucous and unruly beginnings on the website 4Chan. Through interviews with current members – some recently returned from prison, others still awaiting trial – as well as writers, academics and major players in various “raids,” WE ARE LEGION traces the collective’s breathtaking evolution from merry pranksters to a full-blown, global movement, one armed with new weapons of civil disobedience for an online world.
- TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard (2013)
An intellectual freedoms documentary based around the interpersonal triumphs, and defeats of the three main characters against the largest industry in the known universe. The media industry.
- Catfish (2010)
In late 2007, filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding as they began to film the life of Ariel’s brother, Nev. They had no idea that their project would lead to the most exhilarating and unsettling months of their lives. A reality thriller that is a shocking product of our times, Catfish is a riveting story of love, deception, and grace within a labyrinth of online intrigue.
- In January 2013, Laura Poitras started receiving anonymous encrypted e-mails from CITIZENFOUR, who claimed to have evidence of illegal covert surveillance programs run by the NSA in collaboration with other intelligence agencies worldwide. Five months later, she and reporters Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her. The resulting film is history unfolding before our eyes.
- Dan is a 35-year-old computer programmer from Pittsburgh who lives a busy life. Along with balancing work, his marriage, and raising his three boys, Dan spends much of his time actively involved in all things Bitcoin. After discovering Bitcoin in 2011, his love and obsession for the crypto-currency was born, revealing an uncharted world of new possibilities for him to explore. Join us as we take a journey through the rapidly growing world of Bitcoin. Along the way, we’ll follow the stories of entrepreneurs and startups that are helping shape the new financial frontier. We’ll look at the competitive mining market and the various subcultures within the Bitcoin community. You’ll encounter a variety of characters and opinions as we examine the social and political impact of an open-source digital currency. Will the rise of Bitcoin bring a monetary paradigm shift that will forever change the world?
- Deep Web (2015)
A feature documentary that explores the rise of a new Internet; decentralized, encrypted, dangerous and beyond the law.
- This feature-length documentary follows a group of people whose lives are dramatically transformed by a virtual world — reshaping relationships, identities, and ultimately the very notion of reality.
- Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman have had a dream since they became friends at age fifteen: get rich by developing their own dot com company, in some aspect of computer technology interface. Now in their late twenties, they have now come up with the idea they believe will make their riches, namely as Tom refers to it, “parking tickets”: the company will be the on-line revenue collection interface for municipal governments. GovWorks.com came into existence in May 1999 with only an idea. The process of building the business focuses on obtaining venture capital based solely on the idea, with the actual mechanics of the website seemingly almost an afterthought, or at least one left primarily to the hired help. Regardless of the strength of the idea itself in raising this capital, another initial problem they face is what they see as non-commitment by a third partner, Kaleil’s friend Chieh Cheung…
- We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks (2013)
A documentary that details the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website, which facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history.