Coming to theatres today, Friday, October 26:
TRUST MACHINE: THE STORY OF BLOCKCHAIN
NYC theatrical (October 2018)
Tallinn Black Nights
An exploration of the technology behind not only cryptocurrency, but decentralization of information as a whole.
Though theorized in its basic form a decade ago, blockchain has come into popular consciousness only in the last couple of years, tied to the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Winter’s comprehensive film addresses cryptocurrency speculation, its proponents and skeptics, but goes far beyond this singular application to unpack the radical potential of the often-misunderstood technology. At its core, the story of blockchain is about decentralization, operating from the premise that centralization of information and access to it is an inherently problematic, if not outright dangerous, thing. Winter does a solid job of demystifying what exactly blockchain is, and explaining why some entities – including the US government and the financial industry – might be threatened. This latter idea is personified in the case of Lauri Love, a British hacktivist on the autism spectrum who is being threatened with extradition to the US, where he may face up to 99 years in prison. Love’s plight is directly connected to the tragic story of Aaron Swartz, who was hounded by persecution to eventually take his own life. Where the film is a bit less successful is in its too-sketchy look at blockchain’s current and hoped for applications beyond cryptocurrency. The survey provided here offers a libertarian utopian promise, but without digging deeply enough into its reality.