SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! The ability to destroy lives from the comfort of a darkened room on your computer is getting easier and easier. One such case of humiliation and doxing is told in co-directors Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn’s documentary, Another Body, which they wrote alongside Isabel Freeman.
The film tells the story of an unassuming college student named Taylor Klein (not her real name). For Klein, it’s a typical school semester until a friend texts her letting her know that she found a porn video on the net featuring Klein. The problem is that she has never shot a porno nor posed nude in either picture or video. Clearly, someone used AI deepfake technology to superimpose her face on a pornstar’s body.
When Klein reported the incident, the police, quite frankly, were hamstrung. This is not exactly a crime, even though she gave no consent for her likeness, and the perpetrator posted her real name, location, and college in the video’s description. She soon started getting hit upon on social media by complete, creepy strangers.
Another Body documents Klein’s journey in weathering this massive storm. The act weighed on her heavily from a social and psychological standpoint. However, her boyfriend and close friends were there to support her to the point that she had to act. In consultation with an expert lawyer in this field, Klein discovered that one of her classmates also fell victim to the deep fake. The two then began researching the dark web and were able to identify the scumbag as well as uncover his plan to do the same thing with other women at their college.
“…someone used AI deepfake technology to superimpose her face on a pornstar’s body.”
There are two paths that the documentary takes. First is the emotionally harrowing journey of Taylor Klein and the thousands of unnamed victims of this scheme. The subject is incredibly open about her feelings, and through her, we understand the feelings and anxiety of the silent victims of deep fake porn experiences.
The other path Another Body goes down is the investigation. Like a detective thriller, the perpetrator is uncovered in true detective-like fashion, and the pair find that the dirtbag was doing the same to famous ASMR YouTuber Gibi. However, unlike a thriller, the ending is all too real. As pointed out, the issue (I should be calling this a crime) has not been resolved by a long mile. The practice is still legal in most states, and there are no laws the police or FBI can use to prevent or prosecute any offenders in the future.
Another element of the film is the ironic use of deep fake technology. Klein and her classmate have not disclosed their real identities in this film. Their face and voices have been altered for their protection, and all the facts related to them have been changed to protect the innocent.
Sadly, deep fake extortion is not illegal, and the practice will destroy more lives along the way. Another Body does an incredible job, not only pointing out the problem but showing that victims are not alone and something can be done. I’ll be honest, after watching the documentary, I sit here, frustrated for the victims and anxiously creating some plan in my head to protect my family, which is the filmmakers’ goal.
Compton, Freeman, and Hamlyn’s message is important. They state, “Now is the time to tell this story. We hope Another Body will bolster efforts to rewrite the laws that govern the internet and deepen people’s understanding of how online misogyny has very tangible impacts on our world.”
Another Body screened at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival.
"…understanding of how online misogyny has very tangible impacts on our world."