Preview: The Thread directed by Greg Barker

“U saw the news? … Better not text me, my friend.”

These ten chilling words were those texted by Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to a former schoolfriend of his, two years ago this week. That the bombing was tragic goes without saying, but what it unleashed – vigilante” social media campaigns and the use of technology and virality in the mass pursuit of justice ­– testified to a seismic shift in the very essence of journalism.

It is this shift, viewed through the prism of the 2013 attack’s aftermath, that is the focus of The Thread, a new film by Greg Barker. Since Barker’s 2013 documentary Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden was well-received in part because of its focus on CIA culture, it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table here in terms of a wider cultural analysis. What the post-bombing online events of 2013 revealed about human nature is in dire need of examination: the tragic case of Brown University student Sunil Tripathi seemed to suggest that mistrust of institutions such as the police force is so rife that Redditors and Tweeters with collective viral hunches are able to drown out the voices of experts and professionals. How to strike a balance between harnessing people-power and avoiding mob justice?

Hopefully, The Thread will shed some insight on this. It will be released on  April 13, look out for the Glass review.

by Arjun Sajip