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Public Domain (2003)

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A dark, wryly funny film about a game show run by smug pseudo-intellectuals that awards money to the contestant with the most pathetic life. The "contestants" are unaware they're even ... See full summary »



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Title: Public Domain (2003)

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Credited cast:
Dov Tiefenbach ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Don (as Salvatore Migliore)
Courtney Fitzpatrick
Madison Fitzpatrick
Fiona Highet
Tamara Levitt


A dark, wryly funny film about a game show run by smug pseudo-intellectuals that awards money to the contestant with the most pathetic life. The "contestants" are unaware they're even playing the game: the show's producers infiltrate houses, install surveillance cameras and broadcast footage for viewers to judge in such existential categories as doubt, alienation and disillusionment. A biting critique of the culture of surveillance as entertainment. Written by Kris Lefcoe

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User Reviews

A satire that is not to be missed!
28 June 2004 | by (Chatham, Canada) – See all my reviews

I caught "Public Domain" one afternoon, and I was not disappointed. Although I am a fan of indie Canadian films, this one was particularly good.

It is an accurate depiction of our reality-TV obsessed society.

Public Domain is a game show. A game show that follows the lives of various people. These people have no idea they are being filmed, which, of course, makes it more "real". Surveillance cameras have been set up around their houses so that every aspect of their lives is on TV. The winner of "Public Domain" receives $50 000 in "cold, hard cash" for simply having the most miserable life. The contestants are selected completely at random. They are then screened to see if they are appropriate for the show. The criteria that allows them to be part of the show includes: blighted hope, misery, anguish, futility, desolation, mortification, fear, doubt, and loathing. The three finalists fit these criteria quite well. The first is Bonnie (Nicole De Boer). She is a 35-year old teenager. She is stuck in the past, and she has alienated herself from society, and her own son. Her son is very damaged, but she fails to see that. The second finalist is Peter (Mike Beaver), who is agoraphobic. He is too afraid to leave his house, but he desperately seeks company. The third, and possibly worst in my opinion, is Terry (Nadia Litz). She is a seventeen-year old private school girl who lives in misery. Her mother is confined to her bed, and she constantly criticizes her. Still, Terry's not an innocent victim. She pimps her friends out in order to get drugs.

Sad, aren't they?

The acting in Public Domain is quite good. The whole premise is incredibly interesting to watch. The films cuts between the lives of the three characters. As their lives get worse and worse, the amount of viewer votes increases. The seedier they are, the more popular they become. The film also shows the hosts and viewers on the street commenting on the characters' behaviour.

What is so striking about "Public Domain" is the fact that it is so similar to our society. Everyone watches reality TV, whether they like to admit it or not. It's addictive. The more horrific the concept, the better the ratings. "Public Domain" is an incredibly witty, and darkly funny film. It is truly a perfect satire, and it has a very edgy, dark feel to it. Like reality TV, you get sucked into the lives of the characters, and you can't help but watch. Things get progressively worse when the "winner" is declared. The tag line describes the film perfectly: "Some of you might think that we've gone too far, but after you see their lives, you'll be glad it's not yours!!"


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