Women have always felt unsafe. It is ingrained in our nature to fear, to look over our shoulders, and to carry our keys between our fingers late at night. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, enter the newest AI nightmare into the conversation. Anyone can go online and copy and paste your photo to create a duplicate or entirely new profile on social media. As if things weren’t bad enough, catfishing gets a superpower with the introduction of deep faking. SXSW 2023 documentary Another Body from directors Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn follows the story of a young woman named whose life is upended by one spiteful person with an agenda.
Meet Taylor, an engineering grad student living her quiet life attending classes and living a quiet goal-oriented life with her boyfriend. After receiving what she thought to be spam messages from her classmates, Taylor finds her image stolen, her name tarnished, and harassed by strange men who now know where she goes to school and where she lives. She discovers her face has on someone else’s body in videos on an adult website. Her image and name have an entire account, and new videos keep appearing. Another Body is a film about consent on numerous levels and the battle against gender-based violence.
The film mixes sit-down interviews with Taylor, cell phone footage from her investigative journey, and animated recreations of her emotional processing. That is not the most impressive visual aspect of the film. “Taylor” is not what she appears to be. Let me explain this statement. The face projected to the audience is an actress whose face has been deepfaked onto our storyteller. The reveal comes as a complete surprise but perfectly encapsulates the danger of this technology. You will find yourself overanalyzing her movements on screen and realizing how vulnerable our identities are. It is nothing short of fascinating work.
When Taylor reaches out to the police, it is clear that they are out of their element. There are no clear laws about a technology that is rapidly changing. Then the inevitable victim-blaming begins both from law enforcement and friends and family. Taylor takes it upon herself to discover the identity of the culprit. Becoming a DIY detective, she narrows it down to three likely suspects. The mystery deepens as her online sleuthing and fight for justice play out in real time. Taylor finds that other women in her circle are also victims. As they compare notes, one name stands out from the rest. It is undeniably compelling to witness her take action. Another Body is an infuriating and invigorating watch. It will resonate with true crime audiences and victims of gender-based violence. When body autonomy becomes threatened, you must become your own warrior.