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WEST COAST PREMIERE
Carrie Goldberg, an internet privacy attorney; Anita Sarkeesian, creator of the YouTube series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games; and Tina Reine, a financial trader whose career was derailed by a vicious campaign of cyber harassment, are the three extraordinary subjects of Netizens. As significant as it is compelling and sharp, this is the best kind of activist documentary: a study of the systems and structures of power in an increasingly digital landscape. The issue it tackles is internet misogyny, but with forceful reminders that misogyny existed long before the internet. Likewise, while Netizens takes a hard look at the worst tendencies of anonymous, angry individuals online, it never loses sight of the complicity of Silicon Valley in enabling predatory behavior, just as other male-dominated sectors such as Wall Street and Hollywood have.
This compassionate and inspiring examination of an often downplayed crime insightfully draws connections between online harassment and older forms of persecution. As Sarkeesian says, “The thing about being attacked is that it takes away your humanity. You have to be hypervigilant . . . and you can’t exist in the world like everyone else.” Coinciding with the #MeToo movement, as the internet becomes the next frontier for civil rights, the arc of the online moral universe may also be long, but here too, Netizens shows it bending towards justice. —Tien-Tien L. Jong
Director Cynthia Lowen and subject Anita Sarkeesian in person
Cynthia Lowen is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, writer and poet. She is the director of NETIZENS, a feature documentary about women & online harassment, currently in production. She is also the co-producer/writer of the feature documentary film Bully, released by The Weinstein Company. She is also the author of The Cloud That Contained the Lightning, winner of the National Poetry Series selected by Nikky Finney. Cynthia is the recipient of the 2013 Hedgebrook Women Authoring Change Fellowship from William Morris Entertainment, the DuPont-Columbia University Awards for Excellence in Journalism, and the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize.