The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] ‘Another Body,’ a riveting documentary on devasting effects of deepfake porn

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Sept. 23, 2023 - 16:01

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“Another Body” (Another Body) “Another Body” (Another Body)

In Sophie Compton and Reuben Hamlyn’s new documentary “Another Body,” a 23-year-old engineering student named Taylor finds herself victimized in a uniquely modern-day form of abuse: deepfake pornography.

But this eye-opening 80-minute film doesn’t just show Taylor tracking down who has digitally planted her face over the bodies of porn stars -- it also shows how she navigates the devastating situation and manages her mental health.

“Another Body” is told from Taylor’s first-person perspective, who sits down in front of a camera for the majority of the interviews captured in the documentary. But shortly afterwards, the audience is told that her face, name and information have been altered to protect her identity.

“We wanted to anonymize Taylor and Julia (another victim of online deepfake porn who joins hands with Taylor in the film) to sort of protect them, because I know online communities like 4Chan (where these two became the target) can get very aggressive and retaliate,” said director Reuben Hamlyn in an interview with The Korea Herald in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday. He was in South Korea for the Asian premiere of “Another Body” at the 15th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival which kicked off Sept. 14.

Director Reuben Hamlyn (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald) Director Reuben Hamlyn (Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald)

“So it was very important to keep their identities anonymous. But obviously, I think the crucial thing is you have the consent of the people involved (when applying deepfake technology).”

By doing so, director Hamlyn said he also wanted to show how useful this deepfake technology can be in some cases.

“I think most people in the audience would have had no idea that the images (of Taylor and Julia) had been manipulated until that reveal. I really believe that deepfake technology isn't intrinsically bad. The use of protecting the subject through this was to demonstrate the incredible capacity of this technology,” he said, adding that while the film aims to criticize the abuse of the technology and esoteric laws shielding perpetrators -- it also aims to shine a light on the potential beneficial uses of it as well.

Hamlyn, a New York-based filmmaker from London, said he encountered a service app worker who attempts to bypass technological barriers to forge a relationship with her client in his latest project “Roger.”

What attracted him to the topics around internet technology?

“We live in the age of technology, which is advancing so rapidly and the way that it shapes how we live our lives is changing on a daily basis. It’s so important to focus and reflect on these new things and the way we’re adapting,” said Hamlyn.

In the film, the most upsetting part is when Taylor reaches out to the police and all she hears back is “What did you do to make him do that to you?” With great effort, Taylor finds Mike, the person who appears to be responsible for the videos, but the laws state he hasn’t done anything illegal, and there’s no route to legal justice.

The real world situation isn’t too different. But the film has sparked a change.

After Hamlyn and his co-director Compton began researching and gathering testimonies on deepfake porn in 2017, they also began the "#MyImageMyChoice" campaign to take a stand with the victims and sound the alarm on how deepfake technology can be weaponized against anyone, especially women. Their message is that anyone in the world with a social media profile, whether they be famous or not, are at risk.

“(The campaign) is kind of a coalition of survivors. We connected a lot of these women we spoke to during the research phase. We were very interested in sharing their story, because they just didn't know how. So we helped to connect them with media platforms and journalists we knew (through the campaign),” said Hamlyn.

“Another Body” has won recognition and awards at several international film festivals such as SXSW 2023 and Champs-Elysees Film Festival 2023.