Hot Docs 2023 Review: Another Body

by Andrew Parker

A bone chilling look into the world of deepfakes, Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn’s Another Body is a cautionary call to action and true crime thriller all rolled into one. Think about fictional movies like 8mm or Hardcore where someone is probing into the background of a person who starred in a pornographic movie; then update that to the modern era and make the main character someone who can’t figure out how they ended up in an adult film in the first place. 

That’s precisely what happens to “Taylor Klein,” a university student majoring in engineering, who, for reasons that should seem obvious, would like to remain anonymous. One day, out of the blue, a concerned acquaintance sends her a link to an adult website. “Taylor” is shocked to find a video of someone performing sex acts, but it’s her face digitally placed onto someone else’s body. The videos keep coming, but the police can’t do anything to stop it or charge anyone. With only some states passing laws regarding non-consensual pornography, no federal laws on the subject, and nothing anywhere as to how these issues apply to the rapidly evolving world of deepfakes, “Taylor” is sent on her way, being told that no laws were broken and that technically the creator “had every right” to do it. Fearing the long term repercussions of having such fake content on the internet and constantly looking over her shoulder, “Taylor” has to conduct an investigation on her own.

Another Body goes down a scuzzy internet rabbit hole full of false identities, trolls, hazing, sexism, and mental abuse. Utilizing computer animation and some deepfakery of their own, Compton and Hamlyn follow along with “Taylor’s” investigation; tracking down leads, conversing with other potential victims, narrowing down a list of potential suspects, and trying to figure out the motivation and endgame of such actions. Compton and Hamlyn bear witness to a story that gets worse before it ever gets better, and while there is some satisfaction to be had, it’s clear early on that justice won’t be fully served. Instead, the brave women profiled in Another Body provide a call for oversight and accountability that needs to be heard, especially at a time when deepfake pornography is becoming a major business that has complete disregard for the feelings of others.

We can’t put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to deepfakes, but films like this can certainly force lawmakers to finally catch up to the power of technology.

Another Body screened as part of the 2023 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. It opens at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema in Toronto on Friday, November 10, 2023, with a special Q&A with filmmaker Sophie Compton following the 6:30pm screening on Monday, November 13. It also screens on Tuesday, November 14 at 7:00pm at Bytowne Cinema in Ottawa, with a Q&A with Compton, on and Wednesday, November 15 at The Cinematheque in Vancouver at 7:00pm with a panel discussion to follow. It also opens on November 17 at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon.

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