Another review from the splendid SUFF – SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL. Sadly the festival for 2015 is now finished but we still have a few reviews to get up. It ran from September 17th to 20th at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville and showcased some EPIC independent content. You can stalk them on Facebook HERE to stay in tune for when they release next year’s schedule.

To follow on from our SUFF reviews from the festival; JESUS TOWNTHOUGHT CRIMES, HELLIONSTHEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE and WE ARE TWISTED FUCKING SISTER, we have KILLSWITCH, a documentary that looks at a battle going on to control the internet. Special thanks to the peeps at Kabuku PR for getting us involved in what was a spectacular discovery of movies.

Enjoy Kernel Jordan’s review…….all the best…….JK.


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The concept of ‘net neutrality’ was something I had heard mentioned a few times, but had no idea of the meaning. It seems liked it was important but I wasn’t tech-savvy enough to understand it in any sort of detail. This film efficiently explains the situation, and its importance, by explaining the very real dangers of having the internet turned into a monopoly; into a place that is not free as we know it to be now. While using three excellent talking heads, the film also uses two major examples to strengthen its argument; the cases of Edward Snowden and Aaron Schwartz; both extremely bright young men within the IT sector, both vilified as traitors, targeted simply due to their politics and ideals.

Now there is no question – this film is biased as all hell. It doesn’t approach ZEITGEIST levels of bias, but obviously intends to hammer its ideas home in the most efficient way possible. This didn’t bother me at all though, as it revealed so much to me that I did not know. It also doesn’t seem preachy at all, and factually it checks out with global rumblings I was already aware of.

The biggest part of this story is that of Aaron Schwartz. Programming code at the ages of 14 and 15, once Aaron matured he became almost a crusader, a selfless leader in the charge against information being free. It is stated at the start of the film that information is like the new world’s gold, and whoever controls it can control almost anything. Schwartz defended this ideal with his life, downloading thousands of scholarly articles without paying and then sharing them across the web. It was an act of civil disobedience, but the reaction to it was almost like he’d committed a terrorist attack. This section of the film is also emotionally stirring as one of the professors interviewed had met Aaron at 14 and had watched him grow up, doing these marvellous things that affected his own way of thinking.


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Snowden’s appearance wasn’t as well done as the part about Schwartz, mainly because there wasn’t a close relative or friend offering comments. The information he offers is far from useless, but it is all from other videos and was mostly things I had already heard him say. Plus the movie CITIZENFOUR, about his story, has already screened. His points stand though; guilt is not needed anymore, as simply matching the description of a suspect is all that is needed for your every click on the internet to be combed through and scrutinised. Not to mention the flagrant ignorance of privacy.

The NSA is not protecting the US in any way, and the film makes a good case for the opposite to in fact be true.

Before watching this I had never really thought of the two men in the same light. IT is a big sector these days and the two young men were in very different areas. However, the issue of a free internet over a controlled internet is a powerful one that I now feel I properly understand it. It didn’t matter what areas of IT Snowden and Schwartz worked in – both were targeted because they used the freedom of the internet to do what they thought was right for the public.

This is why the inherent corruption within US governments is also brushed on but not elaborately, as it is the government that stands the most to gain from having someone like Aaron Schwartz silenced. The same applies to Edward Snowden – I’m sure the US would be very happy to know that he isn’t telling any more of their dirty secrets – secrets that were vital to public awareness, kicking up a dust-storm over the NSA’s activities. That is where this idea of net neutrality really comes into play; Snowden saw that it was in jeopardy and did what he thought was right by pulling the curtains, whilst Schwartz was a ‘hacktivist’ who was very much for net neutrality and fought for it.


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Since these two men were in such different fields, yet both still related to the film’s issue, the film is surprisingly broad in the issues it covers without feeling cluttered or messy in any way. This coherent feeling is thanks largely to two things – the editing, which looks subtle yet modern and results in a compact (under 90 minute) film – but also the three talking heads that are used throughout: Tim Wu, Peter Ludlow, and the man who was close to Schwartz, Lawrence Messig.

They all offer very different views, but on the other hand they all obviously know what they are talking about. They may all be on the same side of the argument, but their different backgrounds mean that their input is unique and doesn’t overlap or repeat itself.

While not the perfect documentary, I feel the information within KILLSWITCH is something almost everybody needs to see, as the issues it deals with affect almost anyone using the internet. It is an important film. The excuse, “I have nothing to hide so I don’t care if the NSA spies on me,” simply is not good enough anymore.


3 Pops



Kernel Jordan is a professional obsessionist, ‘writer’ of the truth and untruth, movie-review enthusiast, drummer, epileptic and bi-polar alien from a place far away….. He can also be stalked at his own site HERE.


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