13 March, 2013

Atlanta review: "Submit the Documentary" (****½)

Tina Meier is featured in "Submit the Documentary"

As the world bemoans the death of originality– complaining that the entertainment industry only recycles old ideas, a new social crisis has emerged and is already beginning to evolve. Cyberbullying moves beyond traditional schoolyard bullying, providing an armory of digital weaponry and plenty of outlets in which to mask terror tactics.
"The Internet has opened up our world to our children, but it's also opened up our children to the world." – Debbie Wasserman Schultz
An arresting look at the short history and unpredictable future of cyberbullying, "Submit the Documentary" is a hair-trigger exploration of the limited laws, muddy circumstances, personal testimonies, tragic family experiences and expert opinions surrounding the social pathosis. Director Muta'Ali Muhammad and his producing team of Les Ottolenghi and Ashley Reid have crafted an absorbing feature that unsettles as much as it educates.

From the first ardently pixelated moments, backed a loud, pulsating soundtrack, the film's atmosphere is thick with an urgency that echoes "The Social Network" and "Catfish." While all three movies reside in the same universe, "Submit the Documentary" possesses a passion and importance the others do not. The film wastes zero time on white space, making sure each frame is both trim and useful. Never slowing down long enough to catch its breath, such a breakneck speed favors efficiency without seeming reckless.

"Submit the Documentary" lays out the issues with an incredibly clear perception. As is the case with all problems related to the internet and social networking, this problem is still young and likely to keep shape-shifting as technology and society continue to change. Progress has been made with movements, laws and voices raised, but cyberbullying is still without a clearly defined solution. I loved the notion of teaching empathy and 'The Golden Rule' (Matthew 7:12 in the Bible) as a means to fight bullying and the equal danger of standing idly by. This film and the level of involvement that its team are bringing to the cause speaks volumes to the gravity of this issue.

"Submit the Documentary" screens at 4:30 PM on Saturday, March 23rd at the Plaza Theatre as part of the Atlanta Film Festival. This is more than a film, it's the bellwether of a movement that we should all take part in.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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