Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost document a story involving Ariel's brother, Nev, a 24-year-old New York-based photographer, and Abby, from rural Michigan who contacts Nev via Facebook, asking for permission to make a painting from one of his photographs. A relationship begins to form, not only with Abby, but her mother and sister.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Catfish would not get cinema or even DVD release if the filmmakers weren't lucky enough to find something while making a pretty ordinary home movie. That something is best revealed in the film itself, but it isn't something these guys set out to document. Opportunistic doco making is legit, although they have to be careful how they present it to the public. Let's just say the cast list is not to be trusted.
Starting like any amateur video of a family member, Catfish is so poorly shot we could be excused for thinking that it was made to look as amateur as possible to enhance its street cred as a 'real find'. That may well feed into the young, internet savvy market embracing the film for its interaction with Facebook, YouTube, mobile phones and online & text chats.
Nev Schulman is tall, dark and handsome; he is a practicing photographer who has yet to make the big time. But his photos are OK and can be seen online. When one of them is copied as a painting and sent to him from provincial Michigan, he is intrigued. The sender is young Abby, all of 8, who seems to have a natural talent for art.
Their exchanges are restricted to text; then Abby's older sister Megan comes online and starts flirting outrageously with Nev. A photo of her shows a pretty and lively young woman. Nev responds ....
The trio of Nev, filmmakers Ariel (his brother) and friend Henry Joost, decide to pay this family a visit, after being made vaguely suspicious about it all when Megan pretends to write & sing a song that isn't really her creation.
What they discover is the reason the film got any attention. The mood changes and the story ends in a sad set of revelations.
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CAST: Documentary featuring Yaniv Schulman, Angela Wesselman
PRODUCER: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman, Andrew Jarecki, Marc Smerling
DIRECTOR: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
EDITOR: Zachary Stuart-Pontier
MUSIC: Mark Mothersbaugh
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hopscotch
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 27, 2011