Sundance Film Review: Web Junkie

Posted January 20, 2014 in
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Photo courtesy of: Hilla Medalia and Miao Wang

Web Junkie
Sundance Film Festival
Directors: Hilla Medalia & Shosh Shlam

I’m a gamer. I’ve caught myself playing for hours on end with titles like “Grand Theft Auto 5” and “Halo: Reach,” but, after a session of that magnitude, my brain chimes in with, “Hey, jackass, go do something productive.” For others who enjoy the thrill of virtual adventures, such is not the case. China has become the first country to deem “internet addiction” as an official clinical disorder. To counter attack this issue, more than 400 treatment centers / boot camps entitled “Teenage Mental Growth Centers” (“Teenage Mental Destroy Centers” to some of the tenants) have been established where parents can drop off their kids (usually deceivingly) in order for them to break their habits. Directors Hilla Medalia and Shosh Shlam shine a light on a select few of the residents who have varying opinions on the center’s operations and effectiveness. While many may see this disorder as a mere phase, Professor Tao Ran sees it very differently as he describes children dropping out of school to play “World of Warcraft” and wearing diapers so as not to interrupt their gameplay. It’s “electronic heroin,” says Ran. Medalia and Shlam efficiently grant the audience access to an issue that may not be as widespread in America, but who’s to say it’s not on the way? Some of the behavioral patterns emitted from these children are terrifying when words like “I can stop playing if I want to,” are uttered. After watching this, I still love playing video games. With that said, the second after I finish a 300-hour session on my couch wearing a pair of Huggies, I’m catching the first flight to Beijing for some much-needed medical attention.

– Jimmy Martin 

Screening Times: 
Monday, Jan. 20 — 6:00 p.m. • Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City
Tuesday, Jan. 21 — 10:00 p.m. • Redstone Cinema 2, Park City
Thursday, Jan. 23 — 10:00 a.m. • Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City
Friday, Jan. 24 — 9:00 p.m. • Sundance Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort
Saturday, Jan. 25 — 3:45 p.m. • Temple Theatre, Park City