Connect with us


Hot Docs Film Fest 2018: ‘The Cleaners’ Examines Our Secret Online Enforcers

Anyone who’s been online for more than 15 minutes has some type of horror story. For most of us, the internet at its worst means another one of our strange cousin’s Kanye-style Facebook rants, or thirsty creepers trying to slide up in our DMs. However, the internet is darker and more dangerous than we want to admit. Co-directors Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s documentary, The Cleaners, looks at the internet’s growing power and influence over society, and profiles the people fighting to hold it in check.

The film’s cleaners are online moderators, employed to keep “filth” and “atrocious” acts off the internet. They tend to come from the Philippines, where citizens have the required English skills and also work for low pay rates. Each shift they go online and sort through upwards of 20,000 links to decide whether they violate ethical codes. It sounds simple enough, but the job puts people through the ringer, leaving shell-shocked husks in their place; we hear about one stressed-out moderator who committed suicide. These cleaners speak with Block and Riesewieck, sharing how it feels to look at child porn and bestiality hour after hour, day after day.

The Cleaners’ content makes it a tough watch. It presents ruthless beatings, stories of child murder, and the image of the victim of a beheading. If you’re sensitive to brutality, The Cleaners’ content will haunt you for a long time. Even if you’re not usually rattled by violence, expect the movie’s images to shock you out of your apathy — like with the “don’t eat animals” videos shown at Morrissey concerts. If you’re fine with all that, The Cleaners sparks a fascinating discussion about the internet’s unchecked power, and the need for accountability.

The Hot Docs Film Festival takes place from Thursday, April 26 to May 6. Visit the official website for more info.

Written By

Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based pop culture writer and film critic who enjoys covering the city's biggest (and nerdiest) events. Victor has covered TIFF, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada for publications all over the internet. You can find his latest posts on Twitter and Instagram.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Michael Jackson’s Thriller Michael Jackson’s Thriller

The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the Best Music Video Ever Made


BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022 BEST AEW PPV Matches 2022

Best AEW PPV Matches of 2022


Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex

Godzilla vs. Gigan Rex Review: One of Godzilla’s Finest Recent Outings


Lost Bullet 2 Lost Bullet 2

Lost Bullet 2 Delivers The Finest of Vehicular Mayhem


Greatest Film Noir Movies Greatest Film Noir Movies

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 1


Long-Awaited 5-25-77 is a Coming-of-Age Triumph 


Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2 Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2

Noirvember: 50 Greatest Film Noir Movies Part 2


Blockbuster, photo via Netflix Blockbuster, photo via Netflix

Blockbuster: Netflix’s Latest Workplace Comedy Misses the Mark


Streaming services Streaming services

Streaming Wars and Streaming Headaches


Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio movie review

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Breathes New Life into the Classic Fable


Prince Namor The Submariner Prince Namor The Submariner

Who is Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner in Wakanda Forever?


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) review

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a Flawed but Worthy Follow-Up


A Dickensian Disaster: Spirited is a Practically Unwatchable Take on A Christmas Carol


Philadelphia Film Festival Philadelphia Film Festival

2022 Philadelphia Film Festival Feature Roundup


Montreal Screwjob Montreal Screwjob

25 Years of the Montreal Screwjob, the Moment that Changed Everything in Wrestling 


Black Panther Black Panther

Recasting the Deceased: T’Challa, Dumbledore, and the Worst Hollywood Problem