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Bitcoin Documentaries Driving Social Change

Documentary films have been used as tools for bolstering social change throughout the years. Although Bitcoin can be misunderstood by the masses, it has the ability to change and disrupt traditional systems. Bitcoin supporters have been making a range of documentaries.

The documentary film industry has grown noticeably in the past decade. High profile films such as Fahrenheit 9/11, Supersize Me, and An Inconvenient Truth were box office hits, attracting attention in the media and sparking some heated debates.

The rising prominence of web-based outlets, including, has provided new opportunities for documentaries to create social impact. Films are now released with ‘buzz’ in mind, by creating websites, Facebook pages, twitter feeds, and web videos to increase both reach and impact.

According to a paper titled Documentary Impact: Social Change Through Storytelling,  “If documentary films generate empathy in audiences, illuminating new perspectives and activating powerful emotions, then what happens next? Audiences often walk out of documentaries saying, ‘I want to do something about the way I feel and what I just saw!’ Empathy created by great storytelling can be great fuel for action.”

Morgan Spurlock leveraged this film format in 2004, with the controversial documentary Supersize Me. Spurlock’s investigation was inspired by the increase of obesity in US society. At the time, McDonald’s was facing lawsuits around the consumption of McDonald’s products.

The documentary followed Spurlock over a 30 day period, as he ate nothing but food from McDonald’s three times a day. On Day 21, Spurlock suffered from heart palpitations and Dr. Daryl Isaacs advised him to immediately stop the project. Despite the warning from his internist, Spurlock continued the experiment.

Super Size Me premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Morgan Spurlock won the Grand Jury Prize for directing the film. The film proceeded to open in the U.S. on May 7, 2004, and grossed a total of $11,536,423 worldwide. This made it the 22nd highest-grossing documentary film of all time, the first is Michael Moores Fahrenheit 9./11.

The day before the release of the documentary, McDonald’s announced their ‘Go-Healthy’ menu and the removal of the ‘Supersize’ option. Although the company denies it was a rebuttal to save their image, the timing is impeccable.

“The best documentaries illuminate the human experience. Films can bring audiences inside stories and communities that they might not otherwise be familiar with, provoke dialogue and inspire people to take action.”
— – Documentary Impact: Social Change Through Storytelling

The Bitcoin community has taken a shine to using this film format to convey information. They take different forms, telling various stories, and introduce the digital currency to as many people as possible.

The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin tells the story of Daniel a 35-year-old computer programmer from Pittsburgh. The documentary journeys through the world of Bitcoin, introducing the audience to the story behind the digital currency.

“Along the way, we’ll follow the stories of entrepreneurs and startups that are helping shape the new financial frontier. We’ll look at the competitive mining market and the various subcultures within the Bitcoin community. You’ll encounter a variety of characters and opinions as we examine the social and political impact of an open-source digital currency. Will the rise of Bitcoin bring a monetary paradigm shift that will forever change the world?”
— – The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

The Tribeca Film Festival selected the highly anticipated Bitcoin documentary in 2014, and soon after its release The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin became the number one documentary on i-Tunes. In September of last year, Gravitas Ventures procured the global production rights for 500 BTC. “When we saw this film at Tribeca, we knew that to do it right we had to be all-in. That meant buying the film with bitcoin, accepting bitcoin, going global with the film, and generally immersing ourselves in this growing community,” said Gravitas President Michael Murphy.

“No one can predict what Bitcoin will become over time, but it’s apparent that it will be a very interesting part of our 21st century history. This documentary couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.”
— – Michael Murphy, Gravitas President

Following in the footsteps of these documentary makers is Torsten Hoffman, a Media Entrepreneur and director of the newly released Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It. Now available on Vimeo, the film recently won two awards at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, adding to a growing list of accolades.

Last year Hoffman spoke with BraveNewCoin about the film, “in order to achieve making a film for the broader public, as well as getting wide global distribution, it is important NOT to produce a film about Bitcoin. Instead, we must look at the larger, much larger picture.”

“The very concept of money, its history, must be explained. In order to understand the problems with the current financial system, we must revisit past periods of hyperinflation and national debt crises.”
— – Torsten Hoffman, Director of Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It

Hoffman has been involved in the Bitcoin Industry for many years. He explained that although the social acceptance of the film hinges on the Bitcoin community, it is not made for them. “This is a film for someone who has never heard about Bitcoin, and has never really thought about money. It can’t be too complex or too technical. It must have some drama, entertainment and some friction in it. It has to cover both sides of the argument and that is my main message.”

Hoffman initially funded the project himself, raising additional funds via Kickstarter. Other filmmakers are now following in his footsteps, with a fresh angle. Life On Bitcoin follows Becky and Austin, a couple in their first 90-days of marriage, who are trying to live life with no funds except Bitcoin. Their campaign on Kickstarter raised just under $73,000 USD.

“We started this project because our team has the experience and the talent to make an incredible film that bridges the gap between bitcoin community and the real world. This is NOT some stunt to provide for our living. All of the Kickstarter funds are going to be used to produce a beautiful feature length film that will be entered into film festivals and possibly even in theaters.”
— – Life On Bitcoin Kickstarter Campaign  

The feature length documentary is now complete. The East Coast premier will take place next month, at the second Cryptolina in Charlotte on Aug. 14 and 15. “We are thrilled that Charlotte was selected to screen the East coast premiere of this thought-provoking documentary," said Faruk Okcetin, a co-founder of the Cryptolina Bitcoin Expo in a recent press release. "Any individual or business who has an interest in learning more about the emerging digital currency industry will benefit from seeing this film."

Bitcoin is adopting new users each and everyday. Curiosity has been peaked and these documentaries provide insight into what is still considered to be a niche industry.    .


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