Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: ‘Face 2 Face’ – The Off-Line Social Network Documentary

When I first heard about filmmaker Katherine “Kat” Brooks’ film project, during her Kickstarter “crowdfunding” campaign, I told myself I would attend the Los Angeles movie premiere and add to her growing collection of off-line hugs. Haven’t managed to meet the second goal, but yesterday, I did at least get an opportunity to see Face 2 Face at the Dances with Films Festival in Hollywood.

Kat Brook’s film was motivated by the cruel realization that, after major surgery and a suicide attempt, none of her real-life friends had come to visit her. So she sought out fifty strangers from her Facebook Friends list to connect in person. Dare I say, they ended up being the real friends.

With so much interview footage, the film could’ve been taken in any number of directions. Brooks chose to highlight the human need for physical affection, sympathy, and emotional support during trials. Her own experiences – fractured family situation, child molestation, rape, confusion over lesbian identity, smoking and drug addiction, feelings of loneliness – are interwoven with those of her Facebook friends as she tries to make sense of her purpose in life.

There’s a saying, “Humans are a social animal.” For me, Face 2 Face seemed to reveal the truth in that statement. By nature, we are socially-dependent, seeking love, understanding, and appreciation. In other words, we yearn for acceptance, and we thrive on it. And it’s most important to receive that acceptance, not when we’re at our best, but when depression leads to suicidal thoughts. When a beloved rejects advances. When cancer or car fires shake our sense of security in life.

Face 2 Face is a powerful film, but a little sad in that it provides no real answers, probably because the filmmaker is still on a quest to find them. What she did achieve, however, was provide her audience with a reminder that a Facebook friend is not just a number but a real person with real hurts and real needs.