Two films with vastly different themes highlighted legal matters during the South by Southwest Film tract this year.
In A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story,audiences were introduced to Lizzie, a 25-year-old Texan with a rare syndrome that prevents her from gaining weight. Lizzie’s appearance made her a victim of bullying throughout school and the hurtful behavior peaked at age 17, when she discovered a YouTube video of herself, uploaded by a stranger, titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.” It had millions of views and thousands of hateful comments.
Lizzie decided to take action by creating her own positive YouTube channel and working against bullying. Since making waves with an inspirational TEDx talk in 2013, she has presented her story on stages around the world and she is now taking her cause to Capitol Hill.
In A Brave Heart, Lizzie meets with lawmakers to discuss the federal Safe Schools Improvement Act, which, among other policies, would prohibit bullying and harassment in educational environments. Lizzie joined the crew of A Brave Heart at Monday’s showing, answered questions from the audience, and explained her plans to meet with additional legislators.
For more information, go to abraveheartfilm.com.
Producers took audiences under the hood of the Internet in Deep Web, which had three showings during SXSW. The film centers on the story of Austin native Ross Ulbricht and his connection to Silk Road, a now-defunct but often replicated anonymous online market for drugs and other illegal goods.
In 2013, Ulbricht was arrested and charged with narcotics trafficking and computer hacking, among other offenses, performed under the alias of Dread Pirate Roberts. While Ulbricht was found guilty in February, the film addressed some of the questions surrounding the case, including Ulbricht’s Fourth Amendment rights, the evidence that was allowed during trial, and the possibility of multiple users with the D.P.R. moniker.
Additionally, interviews with everyone from professors and cybercrime investigators to open-source programmers and digital drug vendors offered a glimpse into the philosophy and intricacies behind the Silk Road itself, including the use of Bitcoins during transactions, the reiterations of the site since it was shut down, and arguments against the War on Drugs.
For more information, go to deepwebthemovie.com.