Now that a decade has gone by since the hey day of the dot com bubble, when downtown New York was dubbed Silicon Alley, it’s hard to recall the dreams and excesses of that period. Thankfully, they were encapsulated by the shrewd eyes of Jehane Noujaim and Chris Hegedus in STARTUP.COM and today it’s a wonder to revisit the film. Noujaim was making her directorial debut before going on to CONTROL ROOM and other achievements. Hegedus was already well established with acclaimed films such as THE WAR ROOM. Her subsequent career includes AL FRANKEN: GOD SPOKE, another demonstration of her knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times review by Elvis Mitchell:
‘Startup.com” is one of the most involving pieces of eavesdropping you’re likely to experience, thanks to the access granted to the documentary filmmakers Jehane Noujaim and Chris Hegedus.
Their subjects, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman, want to marry the public and private sectors in a new dot-com venture, govWorks. The company is intended to help the public avoid the kind of bureaucratic snarls that can inspire rage, by setting up a Web site that will allow citizens to go online for their government transactions — parking tickets, auto registrations and so on — instead of having to cool their heels in offices.
The idea of breaking down barriers — a fulfillment of the better-living-through-technology clich&”233; — sounds like such a natural that one wonders why no one in the private sector has tried it in such a way before. But as the story unfolds, you see exactly why. ”Startup.com” is a voyeur’s-eye view of the adage that no good deed goes unpunished….
The movie couldn’t come at a better time, as one dot-com after another hurtles into oblivion. But because of the smoothness of the filmmaking, watching doesn’t feel like gawking. It’s like attending the groundbreaking of a catastrophe.