SXSW 2021: ‘Alone Together’ Examines the Relationship Between Creators and Fandom

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Alone Together

Alone Together is a documentary film directed by Bradley Bell and Pablo Jones-Soler (better known as Bradley & Pablo) centered around pop singer Charli XCX. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Charli announced that she would create an album entirely from her home. The result tracks Charli’s efforts over the course of five weeks, bolstered by the help of her fanbase—who she refers to as “Angels”—and her boyfriend Huck Kwong, as well as her managers.

The relationship between creator and fandom has often been a tricky one, especially with the advent of the internet providing an avenue for the latter to have more access to the former. On the one hand, it’s easier for fans to support a creator online through various avenues. On the other hand, the internet can become a breeding ground for entitlement to take root, with the key example being the circumstances surrounding the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Thankfully, Alone Together falls into the former category as Charli’s “Angels” help gather the equipment she needs and offer advice over the five-week period of constructing her album. Their actions are genuinely altruistic, which is a breath of relief given the multiple petitions and hashtags I’ve seen over the years that have been the opposite.

The documentary also lets Charli be open with her fans about her mental health struggles and her relationship with Huck. The former topic really stood out to me, as I’ve often felt myself struggling creatively and mentally during the pandemic. Watching Charli discuss her depression, as well as how it often drives or hampers her creativity hit home for me as well. “I don’t think I’m interesting enough or funny enough of a person to function without my work,” she says in one of her scenes. I have had the exact same thoughts more than once, so to see someone who is a massive celebrity admitting the same thoughts made me feel a little less alone.

The way this documentary is structured is also unique and lends a more personal touch to its approach. Bradley & Pablo pieced the film together from Charli’s Instagram stories and Zoom calls, as well as footage from her concerts and news footage tracking the rise of the pandemic. The one element I wasn’t a fan of was the computer-generated scenes featuring angelic beings. Even though I understand that it was meant to represent Charli and her fans, it felt like a bootleg version of Sailor Moon at times.

Alone Together is a surprisingly honest documentary that explores the relationship between creators and fandom in the digital era and how creativity has evolved considering the rise of COVID-19. It is uniquely crafted. Even though I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of Charli XCX, I appreciate the honesty she placed in this work and the fact that she was willing to partake in an unprecedented level of collaboration with her fans for this project. If you ever needed an example of how art can inspire others to do good, this is a great start.

Alone Together premiered on March 18th at SXSWs 2021 Film Festival.

Alone Together
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Alone Together is a surprisingly honest documentary that explores the relationship between creators and fandom in the digital era and how creativity has evolved considering the rise of COVID-19. It is uniquely crafted. Even though I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan of Charli XCX, I appreciate the honesty she placed in this work and the fact that she was willing to partake in an unprecedented level of collaboration with her fans for this project. If you ever needed an example of how art can inspire others to do good, this is a great start.