By Chris Alexis
(**** 1/2) out of 5 stars
Directed by Georgia Sugimura and Kristin Armfield
There’s an ever-growing discussion in our country concerning our personal freedoms. The news is inundated with debate over what should be controlled and what should be left free. A lot of this discussion is centered around the First Amendment. What should be protected in what we communicate to others or want to hear? Or read? What should be censored?
These conversations normally gravitate toward large issues including pornography and extremist groups.
But what about … barbershop quartet music?
This unusual yet simple question is explored after one man discovers some up his uploads are being blocked by his internet service provider … and proceeds to investigate.
“Barbershop Punk” is a documentary that follows Robb Topolski as he learns that Comcast, his ISP, is seemingly making judgment calls about what they’re willing to transmit … and what they’re not. Topolski’s findings launch a set of metaphorical dominoes that lead to Comcast being hauled into court and larger questions being debated among a variety of people and political groups.
This well-paced film engages its audience with lively discussions and a surprising emotional edge as well. Not only do we follow Topolski’s sudden crusade, but we also watch an unrelated and much scarier personal battle he has to face simultaneously.
Watching this movie is definitely an education, with information on internet neutrality, a brief history on censorship in the media and more. However, the most powerful aspect of this documentary is it makes you want to examine your own situation at home. Are any of your own uploads or downloads being tampered with? What can you prove?
The movie runs quick, a mere 77 minutes, but those minutes are packed with a powerful punch. For anyone who wants a look into a battle that affects every single person using the Internet, this is a must-see movie.
Barbershop Punk screens at the CIFVF on Friday, November 18 at 8PM at Canzani Center at the Columbus College of Art & Design at the corners of Cleveland and Gay St. Parking is free in CCAD lots. Admission is $5, free for students and CIFVF members.