Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sean Kelly

Hot Docs 2015: Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi

Help_Us_Find_Sunil_Tripathi

A family’s search for a missing member is overshadowed by a digital witchhunt in Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi.  Sunil Tripathi was a student at Brown University, who started suffering from severe depression in his junior year.  One night in March 2013, Sunil walked out of his apartment and disappeared without a trace.  His family banded together to find Sunil, even creating a Facebook page for support.  However, a month later, in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombings, a user posted to reddit that one of the suspects looked like Sunil, which kickstarted an out of control social media firestorm, which put the family through hell.

In today’s digital age, social media can be a very important tool.  However, if used incorrectly, it can quickly get out of control.  The story of Sunil Tripathi is one of cyber vigilantes wanting to prove that they can solve the Boston marathon bombings before the authorities can.  In a matter of hours, Sunil Tripathi went from a nearly forgotten missing person to someone everyone on the internet believed was responsible for the bombings.  The Facebook page Sunil’s family set up for the search was filled with expletive-filled threats and the family received non-stop calls from media outlets.

The court of public opinion can be a scary thing and Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi shows how quickly social media can get out of control and drag someone’s name through the mud.  This is compounded by the tragic irony of how the events surrounding Sunil Tripathi eventually turned out.  Even though he turned out not to be responsible, Sunil’s name will now always be associated with the bombings.  This helps to make Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi a very enthralling and thought provoking cautionary tale about the evil side of social media.

 ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 |  REALLY LIKED IT

Screenings

  • Wed, Apr 29, 7:00 PM – ROM Theatre
  • Thu, Apr 30, 11:00 AM – Isabel Bader Theatre
  • Sat, May 2, 9:00 PM – Scotiabank Theatre 8

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).