Film-makers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sense a story unfolding as they begin to film the life of Ariel's brother, Nev. They have no idea that their project will lead to the most exhilarating and unsettling months of their lives as they unravel an intriguing Facebook mystery. 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.
‘Catfish’ is a 2010 documentary borne out of one of its lead’s real-life experiences involving an entire family, its members, and an online romance incited on the popular social networking site, Facebook. Nev Schulman (pronounced Neev) is a professional New York photographer whose favourite subject is ballet and ballerinas. When one of his fans sends him a private message on Facebook, an instant connection is made. Emails and gifts are exchanged, feelings develop, relationships form. His brother Ariel Schulman and his fellow film maker Henry Joost decide to film Nev’s evolving story and burgeoning ‘relationship’ with a woman named Megan. But when they go on a road trip to meet Nev’s online paramour in Michigan face to face, they’re not ready for what they’re about to uncover.
The first part of ‘Catfish’ is an engaging and hilarious mirroring of how we navigate the Internet, doing background checks on our prospective connections in a flash. The media Facebook, Google Maps and Street View, and gadgets perused by its star and film makers, show our affinity with technology; how it’s become a part of a big chunk of our lives. You get a sense of a high from it all. But reality sinks in and it has become a disturbing tale, making you think: What have you got yourselves into? The scenes in search of Megan almost look like a riff on ‘The Blair Witch Project’.
This documentary delves into the instant connections albeit lukewarm and anonymous that has become the norm in our tech-savvy world. It’s what we do: we get to know other people from faraway lands and make friends with them which start off as casual then turn all-too personal. The more private emails and pictures exchanged, the more we somehow ‘know’ each other. And when we do let them see us, we present the best online versions of ourselves. ‘Catfish’ makes a statement on how little we value creating ‘relationships’, which has now become too easy and even impersonal. The film has been dubbed a fake but still, it manages to be a riveting project worth your while.