Catfish, the world’s first “reality thriller,” is about to hit a theater near you. The film follows the story of a hip, young New York photographer, Nev Schulman, who is contacted by an 8 year old artist from Michigan wanting to use one of Schulman’s photographs as a subject for her painting. Schulman gives her permission and so begins his Facebook correspondence with young Abby, as well as her mother, half sister, and a whole cast of characters from her life. It doesn’t take long before he begins to have his doubts that anyone is who they say they are at all. Schulman, and his brother as documentarian, set out to see what is truth in the Facebook stories they’re being fed.
In a funny parallel, the audiences of Catfish‘s preview screenings have been bent on deciphering the truth in the stories they’re being fed. Billed as a reality thriller, and entered at Sundance in the documentary category, the filmmakers swear to the unaltered truth of the Abby story, but there have been some vocal skeptics who question the validity of their claim. True or false, it’s likely that Catfish will do well at least in indie film circles. Catfish came along at the perfect time to cash in on the current cinema zeitgeist that has us fascinated with the dubious documentary, à la I’m Still Here, and the examination of our lives as lived on the internet, à la The Social Network (out next month).