Archives for November 2023

“Another Body” Takes Aim At Deepfake Porn

By Patty Nieberg


The 9th annual Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium screened Another Body, directed by Sophie Compton, as its Spotlight screening.

The documentary follows “Taylor Klein,” a pseudonym used to protect the identity of a student and deepfake porn victim, who seeks to track down the identity of a predator who superimposed her face onto sex scenes in videos widely circulated on websites like PornHub.

Deepfakes manipulate facial appearances through generative artificial intelligence tools. Around 90 percent of deepfakes online involve nonconsensual sex videos, which superimpose women’s faces in digitally altered pornography, according to several studies. “There are 9,500 sites dedicated to non-consensual intimate imagery and the vast majority of them are hosted in the U.S. because the U.S. literally protects these sites,” Compton emphasized in the post-screening Q & A. “These sites literally only exist in order to humiliate, shame, harass, abuse women,” she added.

The documentary film plays with technology in its own way to tell Taylor’s story. She soon learns that the local police can’t do anything to help and that legal loopholes protect deepfake creators, giving them a free pass to graft the faces of women into sex videos, without their knowledge.

In the Q & A, Compton advocated for legislation that places more responsibility on tech companies for the content on their websites. She also called for a greater sense of urgency to acknowledge and address the misuse of artificial intelligence, which disproportionately affects women.

Compton referred to the campaign as a “digital #MeToo movement,” and noted that silencing and shaming keep many victims from addressing deepfake porn publicly. “Anything that we can do to refuse that shrinking – and be as loud, and truthful, and honest, and emotional – I think is the only way forward,” Compton said.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE is America’s first and only film festival dedicated to the burgeoning intersection between investigative reporting and visual storytelling. It pairs the finest, new investigative films with an immersive professional symposium that brings together watchdog journalists and narrative/documentary filmmakers for one purpose; to elevate stories anchored in the search for truth.

Doc Shorts Stand Tall at Double Exposure Film Festival

(Washington, D.C.) –Themes ranging from the aftermath of war to citizen-led protests and police violence ran through the second slate of shorts at Double Exposure’s ninth edition. The films featured included, 23, The Smallest Power, Suddenly TV, The Night Doctrine and Incident.

Directed by Milan M.A. Gonzales, 23 follows war correspondents’ journey into Ukraine to report on the Russian invasion. The 10-minute film used a composition of photos and narration based on the poem 23, which was also written by Gonzales.

The Smallest Power, recorded in secret in the midst of the women-led uprising in Iran, follows an Iranian medical student who risked it all to protect a fellow doctor from the country’s secret police. The six-minute film, directed by Andy Sarjanani, was animated in order to grant anonymity to the subject who could be arrested if her identity was revealed.

In the short Suddenly TV, director Roopa Gogineni followed the sit-in protests that occupied Sudan’s military headquarters in Sudan in 2019. After 30 years of a dictatorial regime led by Omar al-Bashir, protesters called for a citizen-led government. Gogineni describes the film as “meta” in the sense that she documented a group of young men — equipped with their own “film equipment” fashioned of cardboard boxes and plastic water bottles — as they interviewed fellow protestors.

“The audience was live,” Gogineni said. “It was this performance, people and crowds were crowded together speaking their truth there, and everyone was witnessing it.” Their intimate contextual and nuanced understanding of the situation in Sudan allowed them to get a different level of interviews, Gogineni said.

The Night Doctrine, directed by Mauricio Rodriguez-Pons and Almudena Toral of ProPublica, tells the story of an Afghan journalist as she investigates the murder of her family 30 years ago. As she digs deeper, a CIA-backed program that launched hundreds of military night raids in Afghanistan comes to the surface in this 16-minute animated short.

Told through a montage of images and surveillance, Incident uses Chicago Police Department and public CCTV footage to recreate a tragic and criminal instance of police violence in 2018. After a man is killed by police on the street, director Bill Morrison highlights the consequences, vain justifications, and attempts to divert blame and accountability.

DOUBLE EXPOSURE is America’s first and only film festival dedicated to the burgeoning intersection between investigative reporting and visual storytelling. It pairs the finest, new investigative films with an immersive professional symposium that brings together watchdog journalists and narrative/documentary filmmakers for one purpose; to elevate stories anchored in the search for truth.

Prying Eyes and the Widening Net of Government Surveillance at #DXIFF23

By Ella Mitchell


(Washington, D.C.) – At Double Exposure  Film Festival and Symposium, filmmakers and legal experts discussed an expanding threat to the privacy of electronic devices through advanced surveillance techniques at a dedicated panel discussion, “Eyes Everywhere: The Widening Net of Government Surveillance.”

Moderated by Clayton Weimers, executive director of the US office of Reporters Without Borders, the panel featured documentary filmmakers David Novack and Kate Stonehill, Emma Weil, a senior policy analyst at Upturn, and Kathleen McClellan of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program at ExposeFacts.

Novack’s film All Static & Noise, which had its US premiere at Double Exposure this weekend, offers unprecedented access to survivors of China’s Uyghur reeducation camps and their families. Novack emphasized the risks of spyware and communication during the filming process, detailing steps his team took to protect members of the Uyghur diaspora who spoke out. The risks extend to sources and journalists too. After completing the project, Novack and his colleagues work under the assumption that they’re always being surveilled.

“There’s a discomfort that you have to learn to be comfortable with if you’re going to be engaged with some of these topics in certain places around the world,” Novack said.

Surveillance does not only exist within authoritarian governments. Stonehill’s film, Phantom Parrot, also on the DX slate, covers a human rights activist who was arrested for refusing to share his passwords and the top-secret British surveillance programs that open the way for such privacy infringements.

“It’s about systems that exploit these loopholes, these vulnerabilities,” Stonehill said. “And they’re using it to target — fairly routinely — to target activists and journalists.”

Weil said that the amount of information people keep centrally located on themselves is unprecedented, but the laws aren’t often updated in tandem. This, she said, creates legal vulnerabilities that police can exploit.

“Police generally can get their way,” Weil said. “Even if you have the best, longest password ever, there’s a chance of you still being compelled or threatened, and police would have whatever [is on your device].”

Nevertheless, ways remain for journalists, activists, and everyday citizens alike to protect themselves and their information, Weil said. She recommends people uses encryption, and that journalists proactively get a legal perspective to better understand the risks of working with sensitive sources or subjects.

Additionally, McClellan said, it’s important to recognize when sources are being threatened and to continue to vigilantly publicize stories where wrongful surveillance is taking place.

“You can’t assume that you’re ever going to be free from this monster,” McClellan said. “It’s kind of like we’ve been saying: you have to adapt and fight it when you can.”

DOUBLE EXPOSURE is America’s first and only film festival dedicated to the burgeoning intersection between investigative reporting and visual storytelling. It pairs the finest, new investigative films with an immersive professional symposium that brings together watchdog journalists and narrative/documentary filmmakers for one purpose; to elevate stories anchored in the search for truth.

NFT, WTF? A Closer Look at the Human Stories Behind the Technological Enigma

By Oliver Ni

When an audience member remarked that he was even more confused over NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, after the screening of Minted at the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival, director Nicholas Bruckman and writer/producer Shawn Hazelett knew they had succeeded.

A litany of technological, philosophical and legal questions swiftly followed the seemingly overnight explosion in popularity of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. After years of intrigue and research, Bruckman and Hazelett wanted to illustrate the human impacts of NFTs through artists whose livelihoods depend on the technology.

“What interested me was this idea of how filmmakers, artists, musicians, everybody needs some intermediary — film festivals, curators, programmers — in order to succeed,” Bruckman said in an audience Q&A. “And this technology, that’s really strange, confusing code, connects people directly.”

“Suddenly, it seemed to be very true in 2021. It seemed like, ‘Oh my God, this technology is solving this problem that artists have had for centuries, for decades, of needing patrons, middlemen and galleries,” Bruckman added.

The film opened with the $69 million sale of “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” a record-breaking NFT collection created by the artist known as Beeple. The staggering price tag generated immense speculation over the potential and long-term financial viability of the technology.

Bruckman and Hazelett followed multiple artists who saw NFTs as a means of receiving appropriate compensation for their work. Indeed, most of the featured artists saw their incomes balloon, thanks to eager collectors and encoded compensation mechanisms.

“Around mid-2021, when this was at its peak, they were telling us NFTs were unequivocally the way forward,” Hazelett said. “It was this reallocation of access to the artist class that had not been realized since the Renaissance.”

For many of the artists, NFTs were still inextricably tied to other ongoing material and societal challenges. Questions of ownership, theft, and fair compensation quickly reemerged on the decentralized blockchains, while racism and political struggles created additional roadblocks for creatives to publicize their works.



The film follows Nobel Prize-winning Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov as he tries to keep the country’s last independent newspaper in operation.

October 30, 2023

Aboard a train leaving Moscow in April 2022, Nobel Prize-winning Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov was doused in red paint laced with acetone, damaging his eyesight.

As the editor-in-chief of Russia’s last independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, Muratov is no stranger to the consequences of printing the truth in Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia: his paper has seen six journalists murdered since its inception in 1993. The Price of Truth, a documentary directed by Patrick Forbes, follows Muratov as he endeavored to keep the paper in operation after Russia invaded Ukraine. The newspaper suspended operations in Russia in March 2022, citing “military censorship,” and was ultimately stripped of its Russian media license in September 2022.

ICIJ interviewed Forbes about press freedom and Muratov’s fight to print the truth in a country where journalists are constantly under threat. The film is part of the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and Symposium, a forum dedicated to highlighting investigative journalism through a visual lens. Continue reading..

Sorry/Not Sorry Uses the Fall and Rise of Louis C.K. to Prove Cancel Culture Isn’t Real

The New York Times-produced documentary, screening this weekend at Double Exposure Film Fest, rightly focuses on the women C.K. violated, and comedy’s inability to hold him accountable If you’re looking for an unbiased telling of comedian and self-confessed sexual harasser Louis C.K.’s fall from grace and rebirth into a men’s rights monarch, Sorry/Not Sorry is not the documentary for you. While the 90-minute film, which premieres locally at this weekend’s Double Exposure Film Festival, features interviews with C.K. enablers, supporters, and fans, it rightly focuses on the people most affected by his actions—the women he violated—and comedy’s inability to hold him accountable.

There’s no need to put “alleged” before C.K.’s crimes: He’s admitted, publically, to them—masturbating in front of (or on the phone with) young women comedians whom he’d led to believe he was mentoring.

There’s no need to put “alleged” before C.K.’s crimes: He’s admitted, publically, to them—masturbating in front of (or on the phone with) young women comedians whom he’d led to believe he was mentoring.

Co-directed by Caroline Suh and Cara Mones, the New York Times-produced documentary is told in chapters. Viewers are quickly introduced to C.K. via clips from his original, self-deprecating standup about women and pitiful men. As Variety’s Alison Herman notes, C.K.’s comedy, often critical of himself and men in general, helped endear him to women audiences. Parks and Recreation co-creator Michael Schur, who cast C.K. in the sitcom and admits to bringing him back to the show despite knowing the rumors circulating about C.K.’s behavior, speaks of C.K.’s brilliance, as do a handful of other comedians and critics.

But, before 10 minutes pass, viewers are confronted with the accusations made by various women, C.K.’s statement—“These stories are true”—and hordes of mostly men defending his actions and declaring C.K. didn’t really do anything wrong. A clip of Matt Damon (one has to wonder why Damon was ever asked to meditate on C.K. in the first place) captures the actor saying “well, we can work with that,” in response to C.K.’s admission. “Like what the hell else are we supposed to do?” Continue reading….

At Double Exposure Film Festival, Stripped for Parts Uncovers How American Journalists Fought a Private Hedge Fund Takeover

A Q&A with filmmaker Rick Goldsmith

The documentary Stripped for Parts: American Journalism on the Brink tells the story of a secretive hedge fund’s takeover of America’s local news industry through the eyes of journalists who worked at the papers Alden acquired. Alden Global Capital gradually bought out local newspapers across the United States, laying off journalists to reap a profit with little concern for the news industry’s role as a public service. From the Bay Area, to Denver, to Baltimore, journalists fought back. We sat down with producer and director Rick Goldsmith to go behind the film and discuss the future of local journalism.

730: How did you go about identifying the sources that you highlighted in Stripped for Parts?

RG: I was actually engaged with Bill Moyers, maybe one of the top journalists in our country, and we were discussing films that we might do together. Then one day I got an email from him, and he said, “I’m sitting here in the barber’s chair and reading this article, and this looks like a film that has to be made, and Goldsmith’s the one to make it.” I was a little bit floored. But the link that he put in the email drew me to an article which you see at the beginning of this film, the headline being something like: “Alden Global Capital is making so much money wrecking local journalism, they might not stop anytime soon.” So that’s what got me into it. All you had to do was read the article, and it was about this kind of Denver rebellion that had happened, and then you start looking up who’s involved. There were articles in The New York Times already about it and articles in the local Denver papers about it. So I just followed the leads, and they drew me to the people in Denver and Boulder who were directly involved. It also took me to Julie Reynolds, who ended up being really, if anybody, the central character in the film, because she was doing the investigation of Alden Global Capital two years before I got into it and for several years after. I tried to stick as much as I could to people who were directly involved in the story as opposed to might have been writing about it or focusing on it second or third hand. Continue reading…