Friday, February 4, 2011

San Francisco IndieFest 2011 - Gold Farmers/Second Bodies Review

I'm going to get straight to the point here: neither of these films are very good. Both films deal with our digital age and niche social ideas, but fail to portray any sense of scope. It's a shame too, because both movies deal with fascinating types of people and topics.

Ge Jin's Goldfarmers deals with teenagers in China who play World of Warcraft 12-hours a day to acquire gold (the game's currency) for other players to buy with real currency (through websites like PayPal.) I've seen this phenomenon briefly portrayed in other documentaries akin to working in a sweat shop, but all the goldfarming companies we visit in this film feed, house, and provide decent working conditions for the teenage workers. I expected a negative message toward goldfarmers, but Ge Jin only scratches the surface of the practice. I appreciate the approach of this film, but it didn't have any sort of impact on me.

Just a few days ago, I found an article about Blizzard (the makers of World of Warcraft) seriously cracking down on goldfarmers. It will be interesting to see what sort of impact this has on the beefed up economy that goldfarming has created. More interesting than this next documentary.....

Second Bodies. This little documentary had me excited: a film about three women dealing with self-image and how deep-rooted insecurities get transformed into the avatars and lifestyles they choose in Second Life. I was so ready to find out the appeal of such a program, the types of people who gravitate toward it, and the effect it has on their lives. Sadly, Director Sandra Danilovic let me down. While the women interviewed were interesting and different enough, they felt very one dimensional. Danilovic, who also was a subject and created all the machinima for the film was dull as a narrator. The whole thing is just awkward - from the machinima scenes lasting way too long and zoomed in way too far, to the dry commentary, to the scrolling quotes that scroll too long and too zoomed in.

I wish I could recommend either of these films because the nerd inside me empathizes, but I just can't.

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