The Winklevoss twins in The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin (Gravitas Ventures)

The Winklevoss twins in The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin (Gravitas Ventures)

Directed by Nicholas Mross
Released by Gravitas Ventures
USA. 96 min. Not rated

Even after watching this documentary, I’m not sure I completely understand how this product works. As one interviewee states, you need to use Bitcoin before you can understand it completely. In what I’m sure is a poor and incomplete description, it is virtual currency and is both globalized and decentralized. It’s transferred from peer to peer, meaning there’s no Big Brother controlling transactions. It also means there are few rules, and the film describes it as a kind of Wild West of economics, though devotees are attempting to make it more accessible.

The film features Bitcoin enthusiast Daniel Mross (Nicholas Mross, his brother, is the director). The film suggests that Bitcoin is transforming the world’s banking system as it becomes more mainstream. While the film clearly sees that it’s quickly becoming the future of currency, Mross doesn’t shy away from some of its darker aspects. Finding a fair and capable trading engine has been a continual problem for Bitcoin, and the government is still wary of its legality. Likewise, the film spends some time on the black market of drugs and other illegal items that almost immediately arose after the start of Bitcoin, known as the Silk Road.

It’s a volatile currency, as the film depicts the wild highs and lows of its value, and portrayed as a mysterious form of money, a theme that the film might have pursued further. The transactions are anonymous for one thing, but its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, is completely unknown. There is no evidence of that name in existence before Bitcoin, and he has since disappeared and no longer has any involvement. The mystery involving its creator puts its legitimacy into question, and while the filmmakers bring this up, a more in-depth exploration of Nakamoto’s true identity might have made for a more enthralling examination.

Mross, a family man from Pittsburgh, is a passionate though not a particularly compelling guide. As a computer “nerd” turned Bitcoin miner, his devotion and faith in the currency clearly drives this documentary in a certain direction. Despite highlighting some questions, it’s apparent the film is educating its viewers about how Bitcoin will positively change the future of currency, making it more free and fair to use. It’s worth noting that distributor, Gravitas Ventures, purchased the film in Bitcoins, which has never been done before.

It stills feels early to say just where this type of technology is headed, whether it’s a fad or the future. I did, however, just Google the exchange rate of Bitcoin. At the moment it’s 294.13 to the U.S. dollar. The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin is right about one thing: Bitcoin is worth taking seriously.