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STARTUP.COM

SYNOPSIS:†
Lifelong friends Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman are new players in the booming Internet business. With little experience but an agressive money raising plan they secure over $50 million in venture capital for their GovWorks.com site, via which New Yorkers will gain access to local government information and be able to pay parking fines. Within a few short months, but not without heartache, govWorks.com rises from 8 employees to over 200, and the two friends are on top of a potential business giant. An ailing economy, competition from other companies, technical problems and suspected industrial sabotage brings pressure on their company and drastically affects the friendship of its co- CEO's.


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Told by experienced filmmakers, Startup.com is remarkable for its through-line: it begins charting the story even as the friends begin to seek venture capital. This gives an edgy vitality to the film, and makes it both vivid and engaging Ė most of the time. There are sequences that could be and should be cut, bringing the film to a tv hour length. It would improve it even though itís very good as it is. The sense of intimacy adds considerably to the filmís impact, as we eavesdrop on some pretty frank and private conversations between the two men. Startup.com is like an autopsy which isnít looking for causes of death, and just concentrates on the lead up and effects of it.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
The crash and burn of Internet companies is given vivid human faces as the story of Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman unfolds in this astonishingly candid documentary. The production team of D.A. Pennebaker, Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim have made some of the most important docos in the history of the format and this is no exception. Startup.com is about the American Dream as practiced by young men who still believe greed is good and baseball caps embroidered with the company logo are just as important as a sound business plan - something too many dot.com cowboys lacked in the initial frenzy. The journey of Tuzman and Herman is remarkable not only for its factual detail but for the emotion it evokes. At first I felt mostly contempt for these bragging hucksters who are like two boys who discover their toy is suddenly worth $50 million and decide to cash in before anyone discovers the internet road perhaps isn't made of gold. Comparisons with Donald Trump and the junk bond scandal of the 80s come to mind as the duo lead company cheering sessions and hug each other like football players who've just won the Superbowl. It's nauseating and compelling watching them sell less of a product and more of a tingly sensation to a corporate America clearly seduced by the 'next big thing' in profitability. When, in less than a year, we find the company on the brink of collapse and the friendship of Tuzman and Herman in tatters it's hard not to feel something of the sadness they are experiencing. This is great stuff, packing an enormous amount of information and emotion into 103 minutes. Don't miss it.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

STARTUP.COM (M)
(US)

DOCUMENTARY, featuring Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Tom Herman

DIRECTOR: Jehane Noujaim, Chris Hegedus

PRODUCER: D A Pennebaker

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jehane Noujaim

EDITORS: Jehane Noujaim, Chris Hegedus, Erez Laufer

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Gil Scrine Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 30, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: AV Channel

VIDEO RELEASE: March 27, 2002







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