STOP10 Apr 2017: 'Disconnected' by Goh Ansen

Disconnected is a film about the contradictions of the world wide web and how people interact within it. The internet on one hand connects us to one another in amazing ways, enabling instant conversations across continents, and allowing us to discover the world in new, nuanced, self-directed ways. It also gives people the opportunity to reach out to friends and strangers alike, but how tenuous is that link?

Joe, a young man, sits in his room in the dark. A bottle of hand cream on the table. A towel on his lap.

It's such a familiar set up. He's bored, horny and perhaps a little lonely. He turns to the internet for gratification. On the left side of the screen Joe scrolls through a Tumblr blog with pictures of smiling bikini-clad women. On the right side of his screen is The Strangers Network. Think Omegle or Chatroulette, where strangers are randomly connected to each other in a video call.

Joe has been using the network to convince girls to strip for him. He's certainly charming enough, in a cheesy, smarmy way. 

One night things go terribly wrong for Joe.

Because a large duration of the film is spent on the actual screen interface, Goh cleverly generates tension by controlling how much is seen and how much is hidden. At times, the bikini-clad women take up a bulk of the screen, even as the viewer strains to see what is happening on The Strangers Network.

The film also asks interesting questions about the mode of the internet and its function in connecting people, because it simultaneously encourages a disconnect between person and image. Take the women Joe ogles on Instagram and Tumblr. Are they merely objects of our gaze, or are they people? What would it take for the women on the network that Joe tries to charm into stripping for him to become more than their sex appeal? 

Disconnected is the internet story that should be told. The need for connection coupled with a need for validation comes through strongly through thoughtful dialogue, editing and the use of screen recording footage to tell the story. It's like Unfriended without the supernatural horror elements. The internet is merely a tool and the onus is still on us to truly connect with other human beings online.

Check out filmmaker Goh Ansen's blog on his current and past projects here.

Disconnected is a recent addition to Viddsee's Singapore Film Channel.
You can watch the film here:

Written by Jacqueline Lee

For the full list of April 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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