I was lucky enough to be in the first audience of people to see Alex Winter’s newest documentary, Trust Machine. I have been a fan of Alex Winter ever since I can possibly remember, having grown up driving my parents crazy with constant requests to watch Bill & Ted whether it be Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey. I also loved Winter’s directing in fictional narrative during the same period with his weirdly hilarious MTV show, The Idiot Box, which was the basis for one of the weirdest, most awesome comedies of the 90’s, Freaked. However, Winter has been working in a very different territory since 2013’s Downloaded, creating riveting educational documentaries. Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain is another one to add to the list.
I am going to be the first to admit right now, that I only have a pretty basic understanding of computers and technology (which is hovering somewhere only slightly above your average grandparent who’s henpecking the keys and doesn’t know how to print a document). Despite this fact that I use them all the time, and I’m sure I’m not alone (at least I hope not because I don’t want to have outed myself for the true Luddite that I am). So when Bitcoin first started to become popular back in the early ‘10’s, I had no clue what any of it meant and thought it was a weird subsect of the internet of people who lived on Reddit.
“…hackers, lawyers, startup entrepreneurs, and even musicians to see how they have embraced the power of blockchain to help improve the fields they work…”
This didn’t change too much to be quite honest, despite the fact that I do now own some Ethereum and Litecoin. I’m incredibly happy that a film like Trust Machine came out when it did, because we’re at an impasse technologically, politically, environmentally, artistically, etc. where we must do whatever we can to change the corrupt nature of our systems of government and finance around the world. Trust Machine purports that with the blockchain, this change might become possible.
Alex Winter and his team interview everyone from hackers, lawyers, startup entrepreneurs, and even musicians to see how they have embraced the power of blockchain to help improve the fields they work within, and the world at large. Imogen Heap discusses her use of blockchain to distribute her music directly to fans. Chris Fabien of Unicef Ventures spearheaded a project which led to a huge supermarket in Jordan, where thousands of refugees live, that accepts blockchain and allows people who would be starving to have access to food. Brooklyn Microgrid is using the blockchain to create a system of solar energy that could revolutionize the future of green energy. There are so many other examples in the film about the positives of blockchain and how it might help us truly create a new world where power is less centralized.
“…a basic understanding of something that could very well be the benchmark of how we think about business and finance in the future.”
Because of the inability to control blockchain, it does of course have it’s detractors, particularly in the world of finance and government, and Trust Machine touches on that as well. We hear Jamie Dimon completely denouncing Bitcoin and blockchain because why wouldn’t he? If something is threatening people’s desire to keep their money in banks, which has kept him a billionaire for years, it makes perfect sense. There was also a lot of backlash from our own government, particularly because Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency was used to purchase many illegal things on the good ole Silk Road website which of course no longer exists. Many people I’ve talked to, including some of my friends, believe that blockchain and BitCoin are ways to buy drugs on the internet and to avoid taxation, but it’s so much more than that.
In addition to Trust Machine being an in-depth look into the world of Blockchain and cryptocurrency, it is also the first film to be funded and distributed via Blockchain, thanks to the help of Singular DTV and Futurism Studios whose Kim Jackson and Geoff Clark, respectively also served as producers of the film. Trust Machine is a very impressive undertaking that serves as a wonderful introduction to Blockchain “n00bs” such as myself. Alex Winter and his team traveled all over the world to get different points of view on the subject from such disparate sources, from hacktivist Lauri Love to dubstep DJ, Gramatik. He left no stone unturned in his search for knowledge on the subject. So one can walk away from Trust Machine with at least a basic understanding of something that could very well be the benchmark of how we think about business and finance in the future. Oh, also, Rosario Dawson is the narrator and who doesn’t love her! Overall, I must say Trust Machine is a winner that I would love to watch again to absorb more of the information, of which there is plenty to go around. Very well done, Mr. Winter!
Trust Machine (2018) Written and Directed by Alex Winter. Starring Rosario Dawson, Imogen Heap, Tim Draper, Spiros Michalakis, Joseph Lubin, Mark Jeffrey, Gramatik, Vinay Gupta, Laura Shin, Bill Tai, Lauri Love, Chris Fabien, Tor Eklund.
9 out of 10 stars