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VIFF 2019: TRUST MACHINE Untangles the Complicated Truth of Blockchain [Review]

By Marina Antunes [10.01.19]


For the last few years Alex Winter has been making a mark in the world of documentary filmmaking taking on stories of technology and corruption and Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain is the latest entry into Winter’s fascination with technology. The thing that distinguishes him from other documentarians that cover the subject is his belief that technology is essentially good - if it’s not misused.


In Trust Machine, Winter takes on blockchain; providing an easily digestible history of the underlying technology of bitcoin, before exploring various ways in which that same technology is being applied and used by a variety of different groups to help with everything from running grocery stores in refugee camps and providing identification for refugees moving across Europe and the world, to how musicians are using the technology to connect directly to their fans.


What makes blockchain a particularly touchy subject isn’t so much the fact that the tech was initially developed and largely used in a sort of underground way (though that certainly plays a part) but more to the point is the fact that blockchain, like the early internet, decentralizes power and control. Much of the narrative to date surrounding blockchain has been spearheaded by governments, big banks, and corporations as a way to shift perception on the technology just enough that they can retain control.



Along the way, Winter speaks with everyone from technology experts and historians on both sides of the isle, those that support the use of the technology and see how it can benefit the world at large, but also detractors who feel that someone needs to be in control. Though both sides are given opportunity to make their case, Winter is clearly on the side of the technology staying free of corporate and government control.


It may not be balanced and unbiased, but Winter over-compensates by loading Trust Machine with facts and data that are impossible to ignore, arguing the case that blockchain is the way of the future with such fervour and urgency that one can’t help but consider that blockchain may just be the most important advancement in technology since the advent of the internet.


Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain plays at VIFF on October 1, 3 and 7. For full details and tickets visit the festival website.



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