"Catfish" is a movie released in 2010 by Universal Pictures, directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. It follows Nev Schulman as he forms a long-distance relationship via Facebook and other social media with Megan, a dancer and songwriter in Gladstone, Mich. It was received very well, but there are questions as to whether it is an authentic documentary.
The film begins with Nev, Ariel and Henry moving in together. Nev becomes Facebook friends with Abby Pierce, an 8-year-old painter in Michigan. He is slowly introduced to the rest of her family, including her half-sister Megan. Nev begins a relationship with Megan, and Ariel and Henry decide to document it. After communicating via social media for a long time, Nev visits Megan. He finds out that Abby's mother, Angela, had fabricated the lives of Abby and her sister, and that Angela is the one who communicated with Nev and painted the pictures he was sent.
There are many questions as to whether the documentary was staged. Angela Wesselman, who fabricated the identities that Nev came into contact with, has been interviewed numerous times and has claimed the story is 100 percent valid. Her artwork can also be purchased online. However, critics such as documentarian Morgan Spurlock claim that the plot had to be fake. They point out certain inconsistencies in the plot, such as Nev not researching the identity of the person he was speaking to.
There were several problems with production because the pictures that Angela posted as herself and her family where actually those taken by other people, including Aimee Gonzales. Gonzales was paid for being in the movie, and she even participated in publicity for the film. The film received a limited theater release when it came out, and it has since been released on Blu-ray and DVD.
The film has been received very well by most critics. Time magazine did a full-page article on the film, praising its honesty. The article says "Catfish" might demonstrate what social media are really all about, and that it reveals the dangers of online personalities and relationships that are not grounded in reality.
- Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images