The controversial documentary 'Catfish' debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to a tsunami of hype as vague as it was ecstatic -- nine months and one memorable (if painfully contrived) trailer later, the $30,000 film swept through America's art house cinemas to the tidy tune of $3 million. Ostensibly the true story of a plucky New York filmmaker's Facebook relationship with the women of a Midwestern family, 'Catfish' was successfully promoted as a mystery thriller dependent upon its secrets. More often than not, however, conversations about the flick eventually became about the veracity of its details and circumstances, and filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost were put on trial as if the media were Oprah and they were James Frey.

The debate was embarrassing to watch, as skepticism towards modern media is thematically central to the film, and the notion that any documentary could (or even should) be entirely objective was debunked decades ago. The controversy was obviously lucrative for everyone involved, even if 'Catfish's' biggest reveal was that it was too trite and simple-minded to warrant such a fuss in the first place.

But if there's one thing audiences hate, it's M. Night Shyamalan movies being fooled. Curious minds still demand to know whether or not 'Catfish' is a hoax, especially those curious minds that might be owed some cash if the film is revealed to have been staged. The directors have sworn time and time again that everything happened as we see it in the movie, but The Hollywood Reporter is claiming that an unexpected source of legal pressure might force them to fully reveal the extent to which they bent the truth.
categories Movies, Cinematical