“Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud” Review
By: Andrew Byrd
The two documentaries, “Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud,” have been talked about more for the events that inspired them rather than the films themselves. Released within days of each other, the creators of both movies have feuded on the legitimacy of their film over their competitors. Both films depict the disaster surrounding the Fyre Festival, a failed music festival where many rich millennials were stranded on an island for a night due to horrible planning and outright fraud committed by those in charge of the event, specifically the CEO Billy McFarland.
The documentary, “Fyre,” distributed by Netflix, is a more in-depth and well-made film, which looks more at the planning of the actual event than anything surrounding it. The film centers on event planners, local workers, and people working closely with CEO Billy McFarland. It examines how everything went wrong from the beginning, with unrealistic time frames for construction and zero transparency. “Fyre”is a very compelling experience that tells its story smoothly and with a real sense of momentum as it builds to the dreaded day of the actual festival. However, as well-crafted as the film is, it’s a biased depiction of the events. Due to the fact that the documentary was produced by FuckJerry Media, the marketing agency that oversaw the Fyre Festival, much of their role in the fiasco gets conveniently glossed over. The result of this is a shiny, well-made yet misleading experience
The Hulu documentary, “Fyre Fraud,” is a much more ambitious work. It holds more people accountable for what happened and tries finding some kind of meaning in how something like this could happen in today’s media-centric society. The film has also faced controversy for paying the convicted Billy McFarland for an interview, an action that has been considered by many as unethical. However, unlike the documentary “Fyre,” this does not interfere with the story that they are conveying. The movie does not pull any punches when it comes to the head of Fyre Fest. It accuses McFarland of being a compulsive liar and fraudster, debunking virtually every claim he makes in his interview. “Fyre Fraud” also feels much more rushed than “Fyre,” with a large chunk of the movie filled in with pop culture references and sitcom clips to bulk up the running time. But as a whole, it’s a more admirable documentary in how it tries holding everyone who contributed accountable, including Netflix for helping FuckJerry produce a film from their perspective.
Overall, while neither documentary is perfect, it’s necessary to watch both to understand this fascinating incident. “Fyre” provides a compelling, while biased, look at the planning of the festival while “Fyre Fraud” shows a clearer, while hastily made, look at the circumstances around the event. Both films expose different sides of the same story.