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We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

"They scared the shit out of the powers-that-be," someone says in "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists," and that gleeful sense of anarchic revolution is at the heart of this insurrectionist primer examining such recent new media phenomena as the loose online collective known as Anonymous, 4chan and the Occupy movement.

With:
With: Mercedes Haefer, Mike Vitale, Gabriella Coleman, Joshua Corman, Peter Fein.

“They scared the shit out of the powers-that-be,” someone says in “We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists,” and that gleeful sense of anarchic revolution is at the heart of this insurrectionist primer examining such recent new media phenomena as the loose online collective known as Anonymous, 4chan and the Occupy movement. The growing debate over methodology, combined with the pic’s overcaffeinated delivery, makes this a timely addition to fests that could find specialized theatrical dates prior to copious ancillary.

From their humble beginnings pranking and punking a hate-speech-spewing radio host, Anonymous has tangled with the Church of Scientology and MasterCard, among others. Their real world presence manifests itself via pop-up hordes hidden behind “V for Vendetta”-inspired Guy Fawkes masks. A cumulative feeling of urgency and you-are-there world-beating are key to the pic’s seductive appeal, though lack of informed dissenting opinions reps an unfortunate editorial choice. Tech credits are tops, led by Andy Robertson’s fluid editing and John Dragonetti’s martial score. True to the movement’s hidden collective spirit, the pic thanks all those who wish to remain anonymous, while assigning producer credit to an org, not a person.

We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists

Production: A Luminant Media presentation and production. Co-produced by Ruth O'Neill. Directed, written by Brian Knappenberger.

Crew: Camera (color, B&W, various formats), Lincoln Else, Dan Krauss, Scott Sinkler; editor, Andy Robertson; music, John Dragonetti. Reviewed on DVD, Sydney, June 26, 2012. (In SilverDocs Film Festival -- Silver Spectrum; Slamdance, SXSW, Hot Docs, Seattle film festivals.) Running time: 97 MIN.

Cast: With: Mercedes Haefer, Mike Vitale, Gabriella Coleman, Joshua Corman, Peter Fein.

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