‘Midnight Traveler’: Refugees Reclaim Their Story In Harrowing Documentary [Sundance Review]

The democratizing power of technology gives everyone the tools and platform to be heard. It has, at times, worked miracles — many claim Twitter and Facebook were integral in coordinating the Arab Spring, while the ubiquity of smartphones has allowed the documentation of human rights violations committed by dictators around the world (and in Syria in particular). But, it could be argued, these same technologies have done nothing to affirm the agency and humanity of those from marginalized and oppressed countries — their photos and videos are co-opted by international media organizations (both those friendly and hostile) who use them to create their own narratives (both those truthful and not), and Facebook and Twitter do what they do to harvest data and sell ads.

This messy dynamic is one reason the new documentary “Midnight Traveler,” which premiered recently at Sundance, is so refreshing. With “Midnight Traveler,” Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili, alongside his wife Fatima Hussaini, uses technology in a desperate and tenacious attempt to reclaim his family’s agency after they are forced to flee Afghanistan and make the illegal and perilous journey to Europe.

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Netflix’s ‘Fyre’ Doc Is A Fascinating Study Of The Man Behind The Infamous Music Festival Disaster [Review]

Behind every great disaster is a fascinating story. And, as our society continues to amass more ways to document our every interaction with Instagram and other social media tools, these great stories become easier and easier to tell. “Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” a new Netflix documentary about the infamous musical festival catastrophy in the Bahamas, is a perfect example of this new era in storytelling where even the most damning interactions are intentionally filmed — because if it didn’t get shared online, did it actually happen?

‘Fyre’ isn’t constructed around unraveling a mystery and it doesn’t pivot on any unforeseen twist. The film is built from the assumption that everyone knows how this shitshow ends. From the beginning, the calamity awaiting this doomed festival looms amid every interaction with and beneath every decision of Fyre’s notorious founder — Billy McFarland. This dread also haunts the faces and stories told by the principal characters who McFarland roped into his fantastical dream. ‘Fyre,’ then, is like watching a car crash in slow motion. There is no question of how awfully this thing will end for everyone involved, but it is hard not to be captivated by the devilishly charming ringmaster who continually tightens the rope around the neck of his own business. This includes hiring videographers to document his every move — whether it be on a tropical island paradise or in a New York penthouse while, quite literally, committing fraud.

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