Down the Deep, Dark WebTzachi Schiff, Duki Dror, Yuval Orr, 54 min, France, Israel.
Is the Darknet a prophetic glimpse into the twisted dystopian future that awaits us, or the key to escaping the Orwellian reality in which we are already living? This is the central question at the heart of this investigation of the Darknet, which delves beyond the child porn, drug sales and hitmen-for-hire which have dominated existing explorations of this virtual Wild West.
DOWN THE DEEP, DARK WEB reverses everything you thought you knew about the Internet and the dangers of the digital world. Our guide is Yuval Orr, a young journalist born in 1984 and well-aware of the gradual encroachment of Big Brother, but like many of his generation, too busy updating his Facebook status to pay it much attention. Assigned with writing an article about the Darknet, he dives headfirst down the rabbit hole. On a journey that takes us through Tel Aviv, Prague and Berlin, Yuval meets tech experts, cybercrime watchmen, and a group of self-appointed underground freedom fighters.
This latter group – an assembly of hackers, cryptoanarchists and libertarians – stand on the frontier of an unseen battle for privacy, shielded by the anonymity of the Darknet. In contrast to the nefarious activities for which the Darknet is know, these activists are united across international borders to defend the universal human rights which are quickly falling by the wayside in our privacy-free online age. Here, in the depths of the Darknet, we find the people lighting the way to the freedoms of tomorrow and fighting against a fast approaching Orwellian future.
The film’s main character, Yuval, a young journalist and documentarian, guides the viewer into the virtual unknown as he attempts to piece together an article about the Darknet. Though a “digital native” and member of Generation Y, Yuval still has no idea what the Darknet and the depths of the deep web hold when he first begins exploring the topic. His first interactions – with Israel’s white hat hackers and cyber security experts – convince him that the Darknet might just be a window into the darkest corners of humanity. Yet when an unexpected turn of events brings him to a hacker’s congress in Prague, he discovers another side of the Darknet altogether. Could it be that far from being the end of our humanity, the Darknet might be the only place where we can truly save it?
“SMUGGLER” & “FRANK BRAUN”
Two faceless and anonymous cryptoanarchists, Smuggler and Frank Braun believe that the novelist George Orwell’s vision of Big Brother is already here – in fact, it’s even worse than Orwell could have ever imagined. The two self-proclaimed “privacy extremists” hide their tracks online using anonymizing systems like the Darknet – and hiding their faces behind masks – while building software that allows the privacy-minded to escape the system as they have. Smuggler, the ringleader of a small band of Berlin-based hackers and cryptoanarchists, has been engaged with privacy issues since the late 1990s when he first stumbled across the Cypherpunks mailing list, a group of privacy activists that advocated for the strong use of cryptography – the very tools that came to be the building blocks of the Darknet. The cryptoanarchists, an offshoot of the original Cypherpunks, believe in taking matters one (giant) step further and creating a private, digital realm where they can live completely separate from state power structures.
Author and futurist, Roey Tzezana spends his days trying to divine what the future holds, and what unexpected dangers await us. According to Tzezana, humanity finds itself at a crossroads between two types of governance: that of the Leviathan, big government systems that attempt to control every facet of their citizens’ lives, and that of the masses, systems of self-rule by the people. Where does the Darknet fit into this picture? As big government systems begin to overstep their boundaries, more and more people will find the way to undermine its power using the Darknet – from downloading designs for 3D-printed weapons to defend themselves to passing along designs for 3D-printed unregulated medications to heal cancer, the Darknet will become a revolutionary force that no government, however large and powerful, will be capable of stopping.
DOWN THE DEEP, DARK WEB is a co-production between Zygote Films (Israel) and Upian (France) with production support from IBA Channel One Israel and France Télévisions. The film is set to be released in Israel and France in June/July 2016.
Established in 2002 by Israeli filmmaker Duki Dror, Zygote Films has produced over 25 award-winning documentaries exploring the political and social fault-lines of Israel and the Middle East and have been featured at some of the world’s top festivals, including Cinema du Reel, IDFA and SXSW.
Upian, is one of the world’s major players in the area of web documentary and the intersection of documentary cinema and digital storytelling. The Paris-based company has produced highly regarded web documentaries, including Gaza-Sderot, an examination of parallel lives in the Israeli city of Sderot and Gaza’s Gaza City and Prison Valley, an interactive road movie journeying into the American prison industry. Their most recent project, Do Not Track, was featured at the most recent Tribeca Film Festival and surveys the state of online privacy. Alongside its production activities, Upian is also a successful web agency, creating websites for brands and media.