From the Computer Screen to the Silver Screen: Facebook Goes to Hollywood (Part I - Catfish)

By Mallorie Rosenbluth In case you’ve been living underground (and if you’re based in New York City, underground living won’t get you off the hook since the subway is plastered with billboards) you know that we’re less than two weeks away from the premiere of The Social Network, the film based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires that claims to tell the story of Facebook’s inception.

While Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers bestows the coveted 4-star rating on the movie, and boasts “It’s better than the movie of the year. The Social Network also defines the decade” one can’t help but wonder who cares? It’s like making a movie about the invention of television. Who cares how it started. All that matters is that it was invented and it has fundamentally changed our lives.

The real intrigue and the deeper stories are told differently. It’s less The Social Network and more The Quiz Show, showing how people can (and do) manipulate new media for their own benefit. There is deceit, mystery, intrigue and a twinge of sadness that not only makes for an entertaining cinematic experience, but challenges us to think again.

Such was the experience with the documentary Catfish, released last Friday. The movie, captured by film makers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, follows the relationship between New York City photographer Nev Schulman (Ariel’s brother) and a Michigan-based family they dub “the Facebook family”.

The documentary starts as a potentially sweet movie about the power of social media and its ability to live up to Facebook’s mission "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." Schulman forms an intense relationship with multiple members of the family, the most intense being a love affair of sorts with the dancer/ singer oldest daughter, Megan. What unfolds over the course of 94 minutes is nothing short of comic, suspenseful, poignant and startling.

Needless to say, the family is not what they say they are.  Catfish (the movie titles comes from a story the patriarch of “the Facebook family” tells, saying some people are catfish - put in the water to keep you moving, keep nipping at your tail and keep you on your toes. He is not privy to schemes going on under his roof, but the deeper meaning of his story sent chills up my spine), is the movie you see before dinner  - because you’re going to need time to talk about it. It’s a movie that will make you stop and question if anyone is who they say they are on social media sites. Even your friends, family and co-workers; we’re all just putting out the best representations of ourselves; we’re all just telling a story.

And this is one story you won’t want to miss. If you’ve seen Catfish (or are planning to) leave your thoughts and reviews in the comments below. And make sure to catch Part II of this blog when The Social Network hits theaters.

Check out the Catfish trailer here: