Greetings again from the darkness. True Crime documentaries have flooded the market, yet the best ones are still enthralling. Toss in a wicked conspiracy theory, a family with a military background and strong religious beliefs, and accusations against the federal government, well then, you’ve now attained a whole new level of twisting and turning intrigue. Documentarian Sonia Kennebeck opens her film with the Oscar Wilde quote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”. By the end, neither ‘simple’ nor ‘pure’ will be words you use to describe the saga of Matt DeHart.
You may not know his name, but his story is fascinating and complex. Were it a fictionalized project, it would likely be less interesting. A computer whiz at an early age, Matt DeHart’s journey takes us from Indiana to Mexico to Washington DC to Canada, and to Tennessee and rural Kentucky. Since the FBI raided his home in 2010, Matt has been labeled: a hacker for Anonymous, a WikiLeaks contributor, an asylum seeker, a child pornographer, a whistleblower, and a hacktivist.
Kennebeck’s film plays like an investigative report, and we are there to assemble the puzzle pieces. The problem is that the pieces don’t actually fit. This is a duel between one young man (with the support of his parents, whose own story becomes more bizarre as time passes) and the US Government. When accused and charged with child pornography, DeHart fires back calling this a ruse by the Government, claiming he has proof documenting the CIA’s plot and involvement with the 2001 Anthrax attacks.
Matt’s parents, Paul and Leann, play a prominent role in his life and in the film. They are exceedingly protective of him and seem to carry none of the doubt that most everyone else involved in this does. Without ruining the chase for you, Matt administered a secret server for WikiLeaks and claims to have contacts with Anonymous and the Dark web. Kennebeck utilizes reenactments, archival footage, photographs, audio recordings, and interviews to take us through the research. Those interviewed include Matt’s parents, his immigration and defense attorneys, college professor Gabriella Coleman (an expert on Anonymous), and journalist Adrian Humphreys who covered Matt’s story for “The National Post” (the stories are available online).
Matt seeking asylum at the Russian Embassy and in Canada, adds to the complexity, even if one is leaning towards believing his claims of being targeted, and later tortured, by the government. The challenge here is that we never see the evidence – either of the child pornography or Matt’s documents exposing the CIA. Instead, we get the investigative research done on the case. Was he rightfully targeted by the government? Was he a spy? Did/does he have proof against the government? Was he just paranoid? Kennebeck’s project works best as an examination of human nature and exploration of the complexities of truth. Given what we’ve been through in recent years with U.S. politics, it’s easy to see how repeated untruths will sometimes come to be accepted as truth. Keep an open mind while watching this lunacy unfold, although it may prove difficult to come to a decision.